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Web Log - February, 2020


27-Feb-20 World View -- India's 1947 Partition War being refought as Delhi riots spread

The generational 'Democide Pattern'

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from

Communal Hindu vs Muslim violence kills 27 in India's capital Delhi

Aftermath of Hindu-Muslim ethnic clashes in Delhi on Wednesday (AFP)
Aftermath of Hindu-Muslim ethnic clashes in Delhi on Wednesday (AFP)

With all that's going on in the world today -- an increasingly explosive situation in Idlib, Syria, with al-Assad's army threatening full-scale genocide and Turkey threatening war with Syria, and a growing coronavirus crisis in multiple countries -- it's easy to ignore a growing ethnic conflict in India.

At least 27 people were killed and hundreds injured in three days ethnic riots between Hindus and Muslims in Delhi, India's capital city. In most cases, the violence was by Hindu nationalist mobs targeting Muslims, beating unarmed Muslim men, and destroying or burning Muslim homes and businesses. Muslims claim that the police did nothing to stop the violence, and Hindus claim that some Hindus were attacked as well. It's described as the worst communal violence in Delhi in decades.

The protests were triggered by a new law, the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) that became law in December. According to the Indian government, the purpose of the law is to protect persecuted ethnic minorities in neighboring countries (Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh), by allowing members of the ethnic minorities to apply for citizenship in India. ( "17-Dec-19 World View -- India's Citizenship Bill riots evoke memories of the 1947 Partition War")

So that sounds perfectly reasonable, until you begin to understand its consequences. It applies to persecuted minorities -- Hindu, Christian, Jain, Parsi, Sikh or Buddhist -- but not to Muslims, since Muslims are not minorities in the neighbor countries. Opponents of the law point out that ethnic minorities that happen to be Muslim are also excluded, referring specifically to the Rohingyas in Bangladesh, as well as Ahmadis and Sufis in Pakistan.

Starting in December, there were large anti-CAA protests, and protesters included by Muslims and Hindus, complaining that the law undermines India's secular traditions.

However, as the weeks have passed, Muslims in the protests have been increasingly targeted by Hindutva (Hindu nationalists) with inflammatory speeches and expletives and mobs mouthing racist anti-Muslim slogans. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who heads the Hindu nationalist BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party), are being accused by activists of inciting the violence against Muslim.

Hindu nationalism is controversial in India because opponents associate it with "Hindutva violence," where the Hindutva movement began in 1923, led by Veer Savarkar (Vinayak Damodar Savarkar), mostly as a movement against British colonization. (See "'Hindutva' terrorist violence against Muslims shocks Indians" from 2008.) Modi became associated with Hindutva violence in 2002, as Governor of the Gujarat province, when he allegedly looked the other way when a train with Hindutva activists attacked a group of Muslims, triggering sectarian violence that led to hundreds of deaths and displacing more than 150,000 people, mostly Muslim. ( "15-Sep-13 World View -- Hindu nationalist nominated as India's prime minister")

Many in the media are also comparing the current anti-Muslim riots to a major 1984 anti-Sikh riots in Delhin, in which more than 3,000 Sikhs were killed.

Delhi riots evoke memories of India's bloody 1947 Partition War

It's been 73 years since India's last generational crisis war, the 1947 Partition War that followed when the Indian subcontinent was partitioned into two countries, India and Pakistan. The idea was that Hindus and Sikhs would occupy India, and Muslims would occupy Pakistan. But unfortunately the partition wasn't "clean," in the sense that there were both Hindus and Muslims on both sides of the partition line. The result was one of the most massive and bloodiest battle of the 20th century, the 1947 Partition War.

The preceding generational crisis war, when India was a British colony and there was no Pakistan, was the 1857 anti-British rebellion, also also called India's First War of Independence from the British colonial power. What started out as protests related to the Hindu veneration of cows grew into an extremely bloody generational crisis war, resulting in the deaths of over 100,000 Indian civilians. ( "7-Aug-16 World View -- India's Narendra Modi finally hits out at Cow Protectors ('Gau Rakshaks')")

So the 1857 rebellion and the 1947 Partition War were the last two generational crisis wars, and India is overdue for a new one. The current communal violence in Delhi is extremely disturbing, and in this generational Crisis era, it is possible that the Delhi violence will escalate into war.

Dear Reader, if you get the feeling that the world is coming apart at the seams, you're right. That's what happens during a generational Crisis era. Winston Churchill referred to a similar period prior to WW II as "The Gathering Storm." We're seeing a "gathering storm" today, and it's possible that the growing Delhi violence in India will be the trigger for a much larger war.

The generational 'Democide Pattern'

As I've developed generational theory and Generational Dynamics, I've seen a particular pattern occur over and over in dozens of countries. I've decided to adopt the name "Democide Pattern" for this pattern, even though the original author of the term "democide," R. J. Rummel, used it to mean mass slaughter of a segment of a country's population by the government.

I'm using the same word in an expanded sense, to include things like torture, rape, jailings, executions, and discrimination targeting a segment of the population. This pattern occurs in countries in the decades following a generational crisis war which is also a civil war.

Regular readers know that I've written several times about the differences that depend on whether the preceding crisis war was an external war with another country versus an internal crisis civil war between tribes and ethnic groups. In the former case, when the war ends, the two armies each withdraw from the other country, and further contact between the populations is done diplomatically. But in the latter case, the two populations continue to live with each other when the war ends -- in the same country, the same villages and even on the same streets. This means that the hatred and the desire for revenge continue at a very personal level.

In the past I've described in general terms what happens, but now I'm using the term "Democide Pattern" to describe the particular behaviors that occur. After a generational crisis ethnic or tribal civil war ends, the winning side gets control of the government. There's usually some sort of peace agreement at the end of the war, where the winning tribe promises not to discriminate against the losing tribe, but that agreement always falls apart when the losing tribe begins to gain political power.

I'll write more about this at a later date, but here is a summary of the behaviors that we see in country after country:

India has adopted most of these behaviors targeting Muslims.

A standard technique is for the government to continually discriminate and incite violence against the losing tribe, in order to provoke some kind of violent or terrorist act in response. This provides the excuse for the government to collective punishment against everyone in the losing tribe.

The extreme example is Bashar al-Assad, whom I've described is the worst genocidal monster and war criminal so far this century. But I've also described the same phenomenon, with varying levels of violence, with Paul Biya in Cameroon, Pierre Nkurunziza in Burundi, Paul Kagame in Rwanda, Yoweri Museveni in Uganda, Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, Joseph Kabila in DRC, or, outside of Africa, Bashar al-Assad in Syria, Hun Sen in Cambodia and Maithripala Sirisena in Sri Lanka.


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21-Feb-20 World View -- Planning for Wuhan Coronavirus (Covid-19)

V-Shaped Recovery -- learning from the financial crisis

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from

Planning for Wuhan Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Scientists at the Wuhan Virology Institute wear high-grade hazmat suits. On the institute's grounds is the Wuhan Biosafety Laboratory, which is designated to study the most dangerous pathogens, including viruses like Ebola and SARS.  There are denied rumors that Covid-19 was man made at the Wuhan lab.  (Daily Mail)
Scientists at the Wuhan Virology Institute wear high-grade hazmat suits. On the institute's grounds is the Wuhan Biosafety Laboratory, which is designated to study the most dangerous pathogens, including viruses like Ebola and SARS. There are denied rumors that Covid-19 was man made at the Wuhan lab. (Daily Mail)

There's a great deal of hope in the air of a "V-shaped" recovery, meaning that the virus is causing massive economic problems now, but this will be followed a huge recovery, as things return to "normal" in April or May. Other people, perhaps a lot more realistic, don't expect resolution until well into summe.

This article describes the main issues surrounding the coronavirus. The last section, "V-Shaped Recovery -- learning from the financial crisis," describes how the virus crisis was permanently change this generations behavior permanently.

The V-Shaped Recovery

China is claiming that the virus has now been contained because the number of new cases each day has gone down for a few days. In the West, the dream is of a "V-shaped recovery," where everybody will be hurt in Q1, but then all that lost business will be regained in Q2. In particular, the widespread hope is that the warmer weather in April would bring an end to coronavirus, at least until the Fall, and by then measures can be taken to prevent further spread. That's the hope.

However, many people believe that the Q2 V-shaped recovery scenario, while possible, is less likely than a scenario that extends well into summer.

In a television interview of 2/19, Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health was asked how certain he was that the virus would be contained and not allowed to spread in the US. He said (my transcription):

"Given the situation the way it is today, we've successfully done that with the 15 cases that we have - 13 of which were travel from Wuhan, and two of which were spouses of the travelers. If we get a worldwide pandemic, where you have sustained transmission in multiple regions about the world, then it's gonna be very difficult to adequately contain it anywhere. I think we did do a reasonably good job, but it's not going to be absolute."

Fauci is a leading American expert. You can try to read between the lines and decide whether he's just being cautious or whether he's sending a signal that far worse is yet to come, but either way, a V-shaped recovery is very far from certain.

In particular, he makes it clear that one scenario is that we may be facing a massive worldwide pandemic, in which the world will be a very different place by summer.

Fauci described the virus as follows: "But clearly this is a highly transmissable virus that does have a disturbing level of mortality."

There are many conflicting reports about the spread of the virus in America and other countries, and unfortunately there's no reason to believe any of them.

Credibility of Chinese Communist Party (CCP)

Since the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) lies about pretty much everything, few people believe that China is telling the truth about the situation in China.

The Chinese were apparently aware of the virus as early as October, and heavily censored any information about it. In fact, a correspondent whose sister was a nurse working in Wuhan told me that the Chinese began building new hospitals in Wuhan in November, which is considerably earlier than they admitted to knowing about the virus. A Chinese scientist, Li Wenliang, warned his colleagues of a potential "SARS-like" disease in December 2019, but was harshly punished, and he later died of the disease. Other Chinese scientists have been jailed for describing what's happening.

This week, the CCP expelled three WSJ reporters from China, because of an opinion piece that appeared in the paper, criticizing Xi Jinping's handling of the coronavirus crisis, and referring to China as the "sick man of Asia." The three reporters had nothing to do with the opinion piece, but they were expelled anyway, and WSJ has now apologized to the CCP thugs for offending them. This is how the CCP extends its censorship around the world, since the WSJ will now have to refrain from publishing information or else suffer other retribution. The CCP imposes similar worldwide censorship about many other subjects, such as Taiwan, Hong Kong riots, the South China sea, or the Uighur genocide. Any publication anywhere in the world can be punished by the CCP for publishing information that the CCP doesn't like.

In January, as the size of the epidemic in Wuhan was becoming publicly known, the United States began placing travel restrictions on travelers from China. This infuriated the CCP, not only because they tend to whine about everything that America does, but also because the move gave cover to many other countries to do the same, and also to Central and Southeast Asian countries to close their borders to China.

The CDC and the bioweapon rumors

In January, the American CDC, which has the best and most experienced virologists in the world, offered to send people to Wuhan in January, as the size of the infection was becoming apparent.

China not only blocked the CDC scientists, but at same time the foreign ministry issued statements blaming the United States for not offering to help. This is a typical example of the Chinese talking out of both sides of their mouths.

There has been a World Health Organization (WHO) team that has been permitted to enter the country in the last couple of days, and that team contains a couple of CDC scientists. But according to reports on Wednesday, the WHO team is still being blocked from visiting Wuhan, and they're being confined to hotel rooms where they're being fed filtered data by the CCP.

Last week on Friday morning, US Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary Alex Azar was interviewed on CNBC, where he harshly criticized China for its lack of transparency with regard to the coronavirus emergency.

He was asked, "Do you know for a fact that this virus occurred naturally, and not in some kind of P4 bioweapons lab?" He evaded the question with this response: (my transcription):

"We need to be very careful not to engage in speculation here, until we have data and evidence. We need transparent access to all first generation genetic sequencing. And we gotta get on the ground and do what we always do -- work shoulder to shoulder with the Chinese scientific experts. To just look at raw data, and solve these questions."

Azar's point is that question won't be resolved until the CDC scientists, the best in the world, are able to go to Wuhan and examine the evidence. This was a message to the CCP that there will be more unpleasant rumors, and the Chinese have only themselves to blame for those rumors. If China continues to block the CDC, then they have no right to whine about rumors that begin.

Xi Jinping and 'Social Instability'

The CCP gives the need for "social stability" as the reason for the harsh censorship, and for expelling, jailing or torturing reporters. By "social stabilty" they mean that they fear that people will turn against Xi Jinping and the CCP.

Xi Jinping's own credibility is badly damaged. He said that everyone would be back to work by now, and everyone knows that's far from true. Furthermore, severe restrictions are still on in Wuhan, and regional authorities around the country are still imposing local restrictions on travel. China's entire economy is all but locked down, and tens of millions of migrant workers who went home for the Lunar New Year are unable to return to their jobs.

Many people have been out of work almost two months -- many of those will not be able to afford food, or pay rent. This could generate anti-CCP activism. Historically, this is exactly the kind of environment that leads to an anti-Chinese government rebellion.

There are already some signs of resistance and criticism of the CCP in Guangzho province, which is adjacent to Hong Kong, including the arrest of Xu Zhiyong, the leader of the New Citizens Movement, which is advocating greater freedoms.

This is highly significant. China's history is filled with hundreds of crisis wars in the form of massive internal rebellions (civil wars). The last two of these massive rebellions were the the Taiping Rebellion (1850-64) and Mao's Communist Revolution (1934-49) -- and both of these rebellions began in Guangzho province and spread north. China is overdue for a new massive civil war, and any sort of economic setback could be the trigger. The CCP leadership are very well aware of this history, and are extremely paranoid about it.

Developing a Vaccine

Most commentators agree that the coronavirus will remain an active threat until a vaccine is developed. Estimates are that some companies will begin testing a vaccine within a couple of months, but no vaccine will be ready for widespread use for at least 6-12 months, and possibly longer.

In the meantime, some existing drugs are being tested. For example, doctors in Thailand said they appeared to have some success in treating severe cases of the coronavirus by combining Tamiflu with anti-HIV drugs.

However, those who develop severe cases and survive often have damaged heart muscles, and many have developed heart attacks.

Singapore - a coronavirus bellwether

Singapore is a good place to watch as a bellwether of what path the coronavirus emergency is going to take for several reasons.

So, putting everything together, Singapore can provide an early warning for what will happen in the rest of the world.

Japan - another bellwether

Japan is a bellwether in another sense.

Japan has over 59 confirmed coronavirus cases -- not counting the 454 cases that were identified in the Diamond Princess cruise ship. New cases continue to emerge in prefectures around the country, and some analysts are expressing fear that the infections will not be controlled until infections are widespread.

So Japan is good country to watch to see how a developed Western country deals with a spreading coronavirus epidemic, and possibly a pandemic.

Japan has canceled a number of international events because of the virus. The Summer Olympics is scheduled to be in Tokyo, and if that event is canceled, it will cause long-range damage to Japan's economy.

Update: As this is being written, reports indicate a large outbreak in South Korea. This may also be a bellwether.

Coronavirus in Africa

Countries like Singapore and Japan are developed countries with sophisticated medical services infrastructure, capable of handling a coronavirus outbreak -- although that claim is currently being tested in both countries.

But there are many countries with no such infrastructure, including many African, Mideast and Asian countries.

Africa appears to be extremely safe, since there have been almost no reported cases there. But that's because no one is being tested. If you don't look for cases, then you won't find any cases. And in fact, Africa has a number of Chinese enclaves, thanks to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

As of Feb 11, Africa does not have any confirmed cases, but suspected patients have been quarantined in Ethiopia, Kenya, Côte d'Ivoire, and Botswana.

The World Health Organization is providing support to Africa, and is providing prioritized report to 13 countries with Chinese enclaves, since there is frequent travel between these countries and China. The 13 countries area: Algeria, Angola, Côte d'Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.

There's still an ongoing Ebola crisis in eastern DRC, in the middle of a continuing ethnic war. International NGOs have been successful in preventing the further spread of Ebola by standard techniques such as contact tracing and quarantining people with symptoms, and aggressive use of newly developed vaccines.

African officials are saying that the same techniques will be used to control coronavirus outbreaks. However, there are significant differences. Coronavirus spreads much more easily than Ebola, and there's no coronavirus vaccine. Few people believe that a coronavirus outbreak will be contained.

War zones - Africa and Mideast

There are several ongoing wars in Africa and the Mideast -- DRC, Central African Republic, Mali, Cameroon, Yemen, Syria. There are smaller ongoing clashes in other countries.

Sooner or later, there will be a coronavirus outbreak in one of these war zones.

The explosive situation in Idlib, Syria

I want to call particular attention to war in the Idlib province in northwestern Syria. I've been writing about this situation for several years on the Generational Dynamics web site and forum.

This started as the Syria civil war in 2011, and it's evolved to a final explosive confrontation in Idlib. There are four million people, mostly women and children, packed into Idlib.

On Monday, Syria's sociopathic monster president Bashar al-Assad, the worst war criminal so far this century, announced that his army will mop up the rest of Idlib soon.

On Wednesday, Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan gave a speech threatening both Syria's president al-Assad and his ally, Russia's president Putin. In the meantime, al-Assad's army is pushing a million people, mostly women and children, towards to the border with Turkey.

It has just emerged that there's a cluster of coronavirus cases in Qoms, Iran, with two deaths. It won't be long before these cases spread into Iraq and Syria, and could start spreading among those million people in Idlib.

And then either Turkey and Syria will be at war, or else Turkey will open the border and allow those million refugees with coronavirus to flow into Europe.

There are hard deadlines and hard positions here. It seems unlikely that anyone will back down, and so this situation is expected to explode by March 1.

The Future of Coronavirus

The coronavirus is spreading around the globe, and it is not known today whether most countries will be able to control their local outbreaks, or whether there will be a global pandemic. These questions can't be answered today, so as I wrote in the past, it's best to wait until early March to make new business decisions.

Economic activity has almost come to a standstill in China, as the virus has affected global tourism, trade, manufacturing and export/import. With many Chinese businesses shut down, supply chains have been disrupted. Companies and countries with a high dependency on Chinese components and parts will continue to suffer.

V-Shaped Recovery -- learning from the financial crisis

Politicians, analysts and economists who are hoping for a "V-Shaped Recovery" are making the same mistake that they made after the 2008 financial crisis.

Once worst of the 2008 financial crisis ended, everyone assumed that things would return to "normal." Economists would look at their 1980s vintage economics models, and conclude that there would be an extremely quick economic recovery.

What they overlooked is that people in the 1980s, during a generational Unraveling era, behavr very differently than people in the 2000s, during a generational Crisis era.

That particular difference in behavior can be measured by the "Velocity of Money." This measures how quickly ordinary people spend money they've received, versus saving the money in the bank. I haven't updated this graph since 2017, but it shows the Velocity of Money since 1919:

Velocity of money, 1919 to 2017 (St. Louis Fed Fred Graph #366117)
Velocity of money, 1919 to 2017 (St. Louis Fed Fred Graph #366117)

As you can see from this graph, the velocity started falling in 2000, when the Nasdaq stock market crash occurred, and then started falling very sharply since the 2008 financial crisis, and hasn't stopped falling.

This indicates that the Nasdaq crash and the financial crisis were events that permanently changed the behavior of the current generations of people. They are permanently reluctant to spend money. So the 1980s economic models are completely, totally wrong.

So I believe that we can apply this same lesson to the coronavirus crisis. The assumption behind the "V-Shaped Recovery" is that as soon as the virus is more or less contained, businesses will quickly return to their pre-virus levels of activity. That may happen if the virus is contained quickly over the summer.

But if there's a larger and longer-lasting crisis, or a pandemic, then I believe that most people will be extremely reluctant to behave as they did before the virus spread, and I believe that the economic impact could be far more serious.


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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the Generational Dynamics World View News thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-Feb-2020) Permanent Link
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20-Feb-20 World View -- Iranian nationals in Qoms die of coronavirus

Syria war in Idlib close to explosion

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from

Iranian nationals in Qoms die of coronavirus

Two elderly Iranian nationals died of coronavirus in a Qoms hospital on Wednesday. They had not recently traveled outside of the Qoms area.

This is significant because it means that they must have been infected communally as much as two weeks ago, which indicates that there must be a cluster of cases in Qoms.

This is the kind of outbreak we expect to see increasingly frequently. Iran has a close relationship with China, as do many African countries, and many individuals travel between China and these countries.

A coronavirus outbreak in Iran could quickly spread to Iraq and Syria.

Syria war in Idlib close to explosion

The situation in Idlib, which I've been reporting on almost every day, is about to explode. On Wednesday, Erdogan gave a speech threatening both al-Assad and Putin. In the meantime, al-Assad's army is pushing a million people, mostly women and children, towards to the border with Turkey. It won't be long before coronavirus starts spreading among those million people.

And then either Turkey and Syria will be at war, or else Turkey will open the border and allow those million refugees with coronavirus to flow into Europe.

There are hard deadlines and hard positions here. It seems unlikely that anyone will back down, and so this situation is expected to explode by March 1.


(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the Generational Dynamics World View News thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (20-Feb-2020) Permanent Link
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16-Feb-20 World View -- US and Taliban to sign laughable 'reduction in violence' agreement in Afghanistan

The year of laughable peace agreements

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from

US and Taliban to sign laughable 'reduction in violence' agreement in Afghanistan

American Marines in Afghanistan (Getty)
American Marines in Afghanistan (Getty)

This could be a Saturday Night Live skit. And maybe it will be.

The United States, led by Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, announced an agreement with the Taliban in Afghanistan whose final objective would be to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan.

According to Esper on Thursday:

"The best, if not only solution forward is a political agreement. We have the basis for one on the table, and we are taking a hard look at it. We are consulting with our allies. We are consulting with Congress and others. And I think peace deserves a chance."

It's not exactly a "peace treaty," since no one pretends that it will bring peace. And it's not a truce, since no one pretends that the US and the Taliban will stop killing each other. And it's not a ceasefire, since no one pretends that anyone will cease firing. It's being called a "reduction in violence" which, I assume, means that the number of schoolchildren that the Taliban will kill with bombs every week will be reduced by, say, 25%. That's progress, isn't it?

And it's not a permanent "reduction in violence" agreement. It's a 7-day "reduction in violence" agreement. If the Taliban uphold their commitments during the 7 days, then negotiations would begin within 10 days for a permanent U.S.-Taliban peace agreement. Where the negotiations will take place was not announced, but Germany and Norway have offered to host the talks. The Afghan government is not party to the agreement.

And then if the negotiations go well, the United States will begin to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. There are about 12,000 American troops in Afghanistan, and about 4,000 troops from other Nato countries.

It takes my breath away.

By the way, the US and the Taliban announced an agreement in September, and the Taliban were coming to Camp David to sign it. But them a terrorist set off a car bomb in Kabul, killing 12 people including an American soldier, so Trump called off the signing ceremony. Something like that could happen again during the 7-dy reduction in violence.

The year of laughable peace agreements

Whenever any politician says anything like:

"There is no military solution. The only possible solution is a political solution."

then he's nothing but a babbling idiot. The same is true when a politician, like Esper, says "And I think peace deserves a chance."

There is NEVER a political solution to a war. (Well, just to protect myself, let's just change that to "almost never.")

If it's a generational crisis war, then it end will with an explosive genocidal climax and victory. WW II in Europe did not end because Churchill and Hitler got together and signed a peace agreement. WW II in Asia did not end because FDR and Emperor Hirohito agreed to a political solution mediated by Charles de Gaulle.

If it's a non-crisis war, then it might end with victory and surrender, or it might end with a "peace agreement." But in the latter case, the peace agreement will never last. Typically, in these situations, the combatants alternate between periods of war that end in ceasefires, and periods of "peace" that end when the peace agreement collapses. The Jews and the Arabs have signed multiple "peace agreements," but they don't last. The conflict between Jews and Palestinians will not end except through a massive bloody war, where one side or the other achieves victory, and the other side surrenders. That's the way the world works.

As the old saying goes:

"Peace is that brief, glorious moment in history when everybody stands around reloading."

So let's take a look at three "peace agreements" that are in the news these days.

It's interesting how similar these three laughable "peace agreements" are:

As I say, politicians are babbling idiots.

If you look at the world today, American and the Western countries generally feel obligated to honor their commitments. But three major countries -- Russia, Iran and China -- see commitments and peace agreements as a way of controlling the West, since they can violate the agreements with impunity, but the Western countries remain bound to them. In fact, this has been an actual strategy of Russia and Vladimir Putin since 2010 -- use Russia's veto power in the UN Security Council to cripple the foreign policy of America and the West, while Russia does whatever the hell it wants, such as annexing Crimea. ( "22-Apr-11 News -- Russia seeks to cripple Nato through Libya United Nations politics")

Why the Afghan peace agreement must fail

Afghanistan's last generational crisis war was an extremely bloody, horrific civil war, in 1991-96. The war was a civil war, fought between the Pashtuns in southern Afghanistan versus the Northern Alliance of Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks in northern Afghanistan. The Taliban are radicalized Pashtuns, and when they need to import foreign fighters, then can import their cousins from the Pashtun tribes in Pakistan.

Indeed, it's much worse than that. The ethnic groups in Afghanistan are COMPLETELY NON-UNITED and loathe each other. Pashtuns still have scores to settle with the Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks that formed the Northern Alliance, especially the Shias. These opposing groups have fresh memories of the atrocities, torture, rape, beatings, dismemberments, mutilations, and so forth that the other side performed on their friends, wives and other family members, and they have no desire to be friends or to work together. They'd rather kill each other.

The above is a brief summary of stuff that I've written about in great detail in the past about why peace will fail in Afghanistan. It's not rocket science for the so-called "Washington experts," but it does require studying history and trying to understand what's actually going on in the world. But we live in a society where SAT scores have been plummetting for decades, ever since the Boomers graduated, and where all college courses are being taught by incredibly stupid Marxist idiots. People in the mainstream media know nothing about the world except Marxist sociology and women's studies. In Congress you have total idiots like AOC who says something every day to prove how stupid she is. And in the Administration, you have "experts" who have also graduated from colleges teaching Marxist sociology and women's studies.

So there's really no hope. The above summary is not rocket science, but it's far beyond the mental capabilities of the analysts, journalists and "experts" in Washington, almost all of whom are way too steeped in metoo and socialist garbage to have any clue what's really going on in the world. The same is true about many of the other hundreds of countries and societies that I've studied, analyzed and written about in the last 15 years. All the people in Washington can do is stumble in the dark, until they stumble into World War III. Then they finally learn what's going on. That's the way the world works.

"War is God's way of teaching Americans geography." -- Attributed to American satirist Ambrose Bierce, early 1900s.


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11-Feb-20 World View -- Syria war escalates into new phase with military clashes between al-Assad and Turkey

Russia will finally be forced to choose sides -- between al-Assad and Turkey

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from

Syria war escalates into new phase with military clashes between al-Assad and Turkey

Turkish soldiers gather in Idlib, Syria (AFP)
Turkish soldiers gather in Idlib, Syria (AFP)

Turkey and Syria appear close to war, as the forces of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad have begun targeting and killing Turkish soldiers in Turkey's "observation posts" in Idlib province. ( "9-Feb-20 World View -- Turkey sends tanks across border into Syria to confront al-Assad regime in Idlib")

According to a statement by Turkey's defense ministry, five Turkish soldiers were killed and five more wounded by "the regime's intense artillery fire [that] targeted our elements sent as reinforcement to the region with an aim to prevent clashes in Idlib, ensure our border security and stop migration and human tragedy."

Turkey said it carried out sweeping retaliation, hitting 115 Syrian targets with strikes that killed dozens of Syrian troops, three Syrian tanks, two artillery unites, and a military helicopter.

Turkey has established 12 observation posts, as I described in my last article. Those observations posts were under a September 18, 2018, agreement in Astana, Kazakhstan, between Turkey's president Tayyip Recep Erdogan and Russia's president Vladimir Putin. Bashar al-Assad was not party to the agreement.

Russia's job would be to hold back al-Assad from attacking civilians in Idlib. Turkey's job would be to separate out the "terrorists" from the civilians, so that al-Assad could kill the "terrorists" without harming the civilians. The problem is that al-Assad considers all of the Sunni Arabs in Idlib to be "terrorists," cockroaches to be exterminated by any means as quickly as possible.

According to Turkish media, al-Assad began attacking Turkish forces in the observation posts early last year, with attacks reported on April 29, May 4, May 12, May 31, June 8, June 27 and August 19. Erdogan threatened retaliation each time, but took no action. Now the Turks are retaliating.

Russia will finally be forced to choose sides -- between al-Assad and Turkey

Bashar al-Assad is a sociopathic monster and war criminal who wants to complete the work begun by his father, Hafez al-Assad, in exterminating the Sunni Arabs in Syria and replacing as many of them as possible with Alawites and Shia Muslims.

Al-Assad's horrors have been well documented. In 2014, an al-Assad defector supplied 55,000 photos of about 11,000 men whom al-Assad had tortured using electrocution, eye-gouging, strangulation, starvation, and beating on prisoners on a massive "industrial strength" scale. Al-Assad was so pleased and proud of this torture that he made sure each act was photographed. ( "22-Jan-14 World View -- Western leaders sickened by Assad's 'industrial strength' torture in Syria")

Throughout my lifetime, I've heard people describe the Holocaust and say, "Never again!" But al-Assad is a man who gets obvious pleasure from gouging out people's eyes or pulling out their fingernails, or sending missiles into school dormitories to kill children, or dropping barrel bombs laden with metal, chlorine, ammonia, phosphorous and chemical weapons on civilian neighborhoods, or using Sarin gas to kill large groups of people. He considers all Sunni Muslims to be cockroaches to be exterminated. Bashar al-Assad is the greatest genocidal monster in today's world, comparable to Hitler, Pol Pot, Mao Zedong and Stalin from the last century. There is no mass weapon of destruction, nor any gruesome form of torture, that he won't use to satisfy his psychopathy.

So there's no chance at all that al-Assad will agree to any "political solutions." He will not stop until he's satisfied that his father's enemies have been completely exterminated. And there are already about a million displaced people in Idlib crowded along the border with Turkey.

The situation is intolerable for Turkey. Erdogan cannot simply "observe" as al-Assad slaughters many Sunni Arab men, women and children -- not to mention that many of them are ethnic Turkmens. And Turkey cannot tolerate millions more Syrian refugees, in addition to the 3.6 million Syrian refugees that Turkey is already hosting.

Al-Assad expects Russia to continue supporting him, as he slaughters the civilians in Idlib. He knows that Putin couldn't care less how many of them get slaughtered. All Putin cares about is keeping control of his two military bases in Syria that he was given in return for supporting al-Assad -- the Tartus naval base and the Hmeimim airbase.

Erdogan expects Russia to support him -- because that's what Putin agreed to in their meetings in Astana and Sochi. Turkish media points out that there are many agreements between Turkey and Russia such as the S-400 deal and TurkStream and other bilateral and military cooperation deals. All of those deals would be in jeopardy if Russia sides with al-Assad, and doing so might even lead to war between Turkey and Russia. ( "25-Nov-15 World View -- Turkey shoots down Russian warplane, evoking memories of many Crimean wars")

I'm aware of only one possible "compromise" solution that's being discussed. Turkey would take control of 20-30 mile wide strip of land in northern Idlib along the border with Turkey. This would be a "safe zone" or "buffer zone," where perhaps millions of displaced Sunni Arabs would live, under the protection of Turkey.

Any such buffer zone would be intolerable to al-Assad, and so this "compromise" would work only if Putin forced it on him.

But unless something major changes Turkey will soon be at war with Syria, and possibly with Russia.


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9-Feb-20 World View -- Turkey sends tanks across border into Syria to confront al-Assad regime in Idlib

Turkey, Syria, Russia: The next steps in Idlib

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from

Turkey sends tanks across border into Syria to confront al-Assad regime in Idlib

The view from Idlib, Syria (Ahval)
The view from Idlib, Syria (Ahval)

Turkey sent a convoy of hundreds of tanks and armored carriers last week into Syria's Idlib province, to confront the army of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad, which is backed by Russia.

Al-Assad has for years been saying that his army will take full control of Idlib province, and there's every reason to believe that is his intention. Al-Assad for years has been saying that the 3.5-4 million men, women and children in Idlib are terrorists. This is the standard method used by war criminals to justify genocide and ethnic cleansing. You pick out an illegal or terrorist act by a small group of people, and declare that the entire ethnic group are terrorists. This is the excuse that China is using to commit genocide and ethnic cleansing of the Uighurs, and it's the excuse the Burmese are using to to commit genocide and ethnic cleansing of the Rohingyas. Those are all going on today. It's the same excuse that Hitler used to justify genocide of the Jews. It's an excuse that's as old as time.

So there's no doubt that Bashar al-Assad intends to take control of Idlib, even if it means exterminating as many of his Sunni Arab political enemies as possible.

Probably nobody would even care, no matter how many of those Sunni Arab men, women and children would be killed, but Turkey cares. Turkey already hosts 3.6 million Syrians who have already fled across the border to escape Bashar al-Assad, and now Turkey is facing the possibility of 1-2 million more Syrians from Idlib fleeing into Turkey.

Russia was supposed to stop this. Russia's president Vladimir Putin and Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan met several times at such glamorous meeting sites as Astana, Kazakhstan, and Sochi, Russia, to create the Astana Accords. Under these agreements, Russia would stop al-Assad from committing genocide in Idlib, if Turkey would separate out the "terrorists" from the civilians in Idlib, so that al-Assad could just exterminate the "terrorists," and leave civilians alone.

I've never understood why Erdogan agreed to that ridiculous condition, since it's a completely idiotic demand. How is Erdogan's army supposed to go into 3.5 Sunni Arabs in Idlib, and sort them into two groups, so that al-Assad could kill one group and leave the other one alone? That demand was so ridiculous and idiotic I can only assume that Erdogan agreed to it out of total desperation.

So Erdogan responded by setting up 12 "observation posts" in Idlib province, each of which had a few Turkish soldiers and a couple of tanks. The idea, I guess, was that these observation posts would stop al-Assad from going any further, since attacking a Turkish observation post would result in clashes between Syrian and Turkish troops.

Well, that's a nice theory, but Syria attacked three of the observation posts last week, killing some Turkish soldiers. Also, nine of the 12 observation posts are now encircled by Syrian troops. "B-b-b-but that's a violation of the Astana agreement," Turkish officials are gasping. Quelle surprise!

The Turkey-Russia Astana agreements and Syria's de-escalation zones

These Astana agreements (the "de-escalation zones") between Erdogan and Putin were all farcical anyway, since al-Assad was never party to them, and Russia never had any intention of enforcing any of them anyway. The agreements were simply a cover to give al-Assad's army and warplanes, along with Russia's warplanes, free time and space to exterminate Sunni Arabs in the more southern de-escalation zones, such as Aleppo, Ghouta and Daraa.

So nobody cared about al-Assad's and Putin's extermination of the hated Sunni Arabs in those other de-escalation zone. But now the crunch is on in Idlib, since there are already over a million people on Turkey's border, waiting for Turkey to open the border, and allow them to enter Turkey as refugees, and from there go on to Europe.

Erdogan is under a lot of domestic pressure. When the Syrian refugees began coming across the border in 2014-16, the Turkish public welcomed them. However, now in 2020 the Turkish public is very tired of them, and want them to return TO Syria. They definitely don't want a million more refugees coming FROM Syria.

Turkey is also playing a grand game between Russia and Europe. Erdogan has repeatedly been slighted by the EU and Nato, and sees this linkage with Putin as a way of taking a stand against the Europeans.

Then there's also the question of the millions of Syrian refugees that entered Europe, especially in 2015-16. It was pretty clear that Putin loved seeing that happen, while al-Assad couldn't have cared less.

Turkey, Syria, Russia: The next steps in Idlib

Bashar al-Assad is a sociopathic monster and war criminal who wants to complete the work begun by his father, Hafez al-Assad, in exterminating the Sunni Arabs in Syria and replacing as many of them as possible with Alawites and Shia Muslims. His advance into Idlib might be slowed, but won't be stopped unless al-Assad himself is killed.

A spokesman for Erdogan said:

"[Syrian authorities] should know well that we won’t leave any threat to our soldiers without a response. From now on, any mistake by the [al-Assad] regime under the pretext of struggling against terrorism and terrorist groups will have grave consequences."

This weekend, Turkish and Russian officials are meeting to decide on a new farcical peace process in Idlib. Putin couldn't care less about Turkey's problems, and he would probably enjoy watching the millions of additional refugees that could enter Turkey and move on to Europe.

So what is Turkey going to do? In the last few days, Turkey sent a few dozen military vehicles into Idlib to provide its observation posts with supplies and reinforcements. That's not going to stop al-Assad. So will Russia find a way to force al-Assad to stop? Will Turkey just "observe" as al-Assad mass-slaughters hundreds of thousands of Sunni Arabs in Idlib? Or will Turkey capitulate and open the border and let a million more refugees come into Turkey?

Or will Turkey attack Syrian forces, and try to inflict the "grave consequences" promised by Erdogan's spokesman, risking war with both Syria and Russia?

Let's watch and see what happens.


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6-Feb-20 World View -- Israeli diplomat reveals Israel's startling new 'pragmatic' foreign policy

Implications of Israel's new 'pragmatic' policy

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from

Israeli diplomat reveals Israel's startling new 'pragmatic' foreign policy

President Obama glares furiously after Benjamin Netanyahu rejects Obama's peace plan and 'lectures' Obama on the reason - in this iconic photo taken at an Oval Office meeting on May 20, 2011 (Reuters)
President Obama glares furiously after Benjamin Netanyahu rejects Obama's peace plan and 'lectures' Obama on the reason - in this iconic photo taken at an Oval Office meeting on May 20, 2011 (Reuters)

There was a program on al-Jazeera today that a discussed possible close relationship between Israel and Sudan. One of the people interviewed is Alon Liel, a former Israeli diplomat to a number of different countries.

I found what he said about Israel's strategy to be quite startling. It described a major change in strategy by Israel's leadership that occurred 15 years ago:

"The founders of Israel aimed at political, social, cultural integration of Israel with the Middle East. The plan was that this would result in integration with the Arabs and the Palestinians, and peace.

About 15 years ago this was dropped. Nobody in Israel among the Jewish politicians is speaking about peace with the Palestinians today.

The basic assumption is that since we will not have peace with the Palestinians, the Muslim-Arab world will never accept Israel politically.

The change is that we are aiming at economic, technological, maybe some intelligence relations, and supply the Arab countries, Muslim African countries, with basic economic needs, in order to improve relations bilaterally.

This does mean that Israel is aiming to be part of the Mideast. We forgot about it. We behave as a European country, the leadership of Israel today sees Israel as a Western country, part of Europe, if you want, part of the United States, but definitely not part of the Middle East.

Even with Egypt and Jordan, where we have really stable peace, it's based on security and some economic technological issues, not on political support. The public doesn't like us - not in Egypt, not in Jordan - definitely no cultural relations, no tourism. So there is a different approach in Israel. We are rich.

If you want, Sudan, if you want, any other poor country on the globe, we can give you what you need, if you normalize relations with us economically, because more we cannot give."

This could be described as a "very pragmatic" foreign policy. Israelis and Arabs will always hate each other, but Israel is willing to spend money to keep the peace.

Implications of Israel's new 'pragmatic' policy

This major change of policy took place about 15 years ago, or about 2004. I can't recall ever reading anything about this change of policy. I guess I've been fooled as much as anyone else.

It was just a week ago that President Trump announced his "Peace to Prosperity" Mideast peace plan. In my article, I said that there's no way that this Rube Goldberg peace proposal is going to survive. ( "29-Jan-20 World View -- Trump announces fantasy 'Peace to Prosperity' Mideast peace plan")

So what the hell was all that? Was it just a big show that had to be put on for international leaders who are always demanding that the US take a "leadership role" in the Mideast peace process, so that they can shoot it down. Is that why Trump put forth this farcical peace plan?

There is one strange thing that I would like to mention. When Benjamin Netanyahu was at the White House with Trump last week to announce the "peace plan," I noticed something that was off -- Netanyahu always had a broad grin on his face, and gave me the impression that he was laughing at the whole thing. And now, in retrospect, I would say that he probably was laughing at the whole thing, because he knew it was just a show. Did Trump know it was just a show? I don't know.

Bush, Obama and Trump -- Mideast peace plans

This policy change took place 15 years ago, soon after president George Bush published his "Mideast Roadmap to Peace on May 1, 2003. I predicted at that time that Bush's peace plan would never succeed, because Israel and the Palestinians would be re-fighting the bloody 1948 war between Jews and Arabs that followed the partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel. ("Mideast Roadmap - Will it bring peace? (1-May-2003)")

A major policy change like this often is part of a major generational change, and that seems to be the case here. From the point of view of generational theory, Israel transited from a generational Unraveling era, when the public mood strong favors compromise, into a generational Crisis era, when the public mood becomes more xenophobic and nationalistic. This occurred in 2006, 58 years after the end of the bloody 1948-49 Jewish-Arab war, when enough of the survivors of that war all disappeared (retired or died), all at once, leaving behind younger, much more belligerent generations.

And recall that 2006 was the time of Israel's disastrous 2006 invasion of Lebanon to attack Hezbollah. Israel panicked when two Israeli soldiers were abducted near Lebanon's border, and conducted a highly emotional, organic and uncontrolled invasion of Lebanon. The war was a disaster for all involved. After a few months, the war had run its course, with nothing accomplished except to destroy a lot of Lebanon's infrastructure in airstrikes, and displace a lot of Lebanese from their homes.

One more memory -- 2005 was the year when Israel withdrew from Gaza and turned it over to the Palestinians as a gesture of peace, something it now regrets. That was perhaps the last major decision of Israel's Unraveling era, prior to the beginning of the Crisis era, and the disastrous 2006 invasion of Lebanon.

The next event of note occurred in May 2011, when President Obama offered his own Mideast "peace plan." ( "20-May-11 News -- Obama and Netanyahu in sharp disagreement after speech")

You may recall the picture at the beginning of this article, which was taken on May 20, 2011, just after Obama presented his peace plan to Netanyahu and the public. It became famous because Obama was angrily glaring at Netanyahu as the latter was rejecting Obama's plan, and was lecturing Obama why it wouldn't work.

What's interesting about this today is that, just as I wasn't aware that Israel had had a major change of policy five years earlier, apparently Obama hadn't gotten that memo either. Hadn't Netanyahu bothered to inform the Obama administration of Israel's new policy?

Which brings us back to Trump's "Peace to Prosperity" peace plan, presented by Trump to Netanyahu in the White House last week. Netanyahu didn't lecture Trump the way he had lectured Obama. Instead, he was grinning broadly the whole time, and seemed to be enjoying the joke. Did Trump get the joke? Had Trump gotten the memo?

One way of looking at it is that Trump did get the memo, and the plan was consistent with Israel's new "pragmatic" regional policy. In particular, Trump promised $60 billion to Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt to spend on Palestinians to implement the rest of the policy. That certainly is consistent with the pragmatic approach.

Unfortunately, we get back to the other problems that I raised in my January 29 article. The average age in the Palestinian territories is around 20, which means that most of the Palestinians are literally children. And those children will not accept the "pragmatic" proposals, even if their geezer leaders do.


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4-Feb-20 World View -- China's Foreign Ministry blames America for coronavirus 'panic'

The Timeline for the coming months

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from

China's Foreign Ministry blames America for coronavirus 'panic'

China's premier Li Keqiang, wearing a green medical mask, meets hospital workers in Wuhan on January 29 (AP)
China's premier Li Keqiang, wearing a green medical mask, meets hospital workers in Wuhan on January 29 (AP)

China's official figures are that there are more than 20,000 confirmed cases of Wuhan coronavirus, and 426 deaths (2.1%).

Many people believe that those figures are low, that there are already tens or hundreds of thousands of cases, many of them in rural areas where they wouldn't be found, and some of them mild enough so that the patient did not see any need to report it. If there are thousands more cases, then the death rate will probably be lower than 2.1%.

50 million people are on lockdown, and are forbidden from leaving their villages. 24 provinces and cities are on lockdown or near lockdown (Anhui, Chongqing, Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hebei, Heilonjiang, Henan, Hunan, Inner Mongolia, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Jilin, Liaoning, Ningxia, Shaanxi, Shandong, Shanghai, Shanxi, Suzhou, Xi'an).

Factories in those provinces are being told not to restart operations until at least February 10. So half of China is shut down, with more than 80% of national GDP and 90% of exports.

One factory owner in Shandong said that he won't be allowed to open unless he has a stock of two face masks for each worker every day. He has 1,500 employees, so that's a lot of face masks.

So one might say that China is in a panic. Nonetheless, they're refusing to permit American CDC officials to visit Wuhan to help out, and they're refusing to allow the US to fly Americans in Wuhan back to America.

China is being congratulated by many international officials for taking the harsh steps necessary to stop the threat of the virus spreading further. But on Monday, China became harshly critical of the United States for imposing some travel restrictions on people traveling to the US from China.

So China's foreign ministry spokesman on Monday said:

"But as far as I know, the US government has not provided any substantive help to the Chinese side yet. On the contrary, it was the first to withdraw its consulate staff from Wuhan, the first to suggest the partial withdrawal of embassy staff, the first to announce a ban on entry by Chinese citizens after the WHO made it clear that it doesn't recommend and even opposes travel and trade restrictions against China. What the US has done could create and spread panic. ...

[[Question]]: You just severely criticized the US government response to the outbreak. We understand the second US flight is experiencing delay - is it due to the lack of Chinese government authorization as some say?

As I just said, the US was the first to evacuate its consulate staff in Wuhan via charter flight. Further arrangements need to be coordinated based on a variety of factors including Wuhan airport capacity to receive supplies."

So China has taken its own draconian measures to prevent the spread of the virus, but when the US and other countries do it, it causes panic.

The above statement could definitely be seen as a threat. China has a standard playbook of reacting to a disliked policy of another country by jailing citizens of that country for weeks or months without charges. The statement seems to be demanding "substantive help" in return for allowing American embassy personnel to leave Wuhan. No one who follows the news from China on a regular basis can have any doubt that this kind of extortion by the CCP thugs is a real possibility. China is blocking access from US CDC officials who want to help, and so it's not known what "substantive help" China is demanding.

Social unrest in China

When China's government says that the US is causing fear and panic, what's the purpose of that message? I doubt that any Americans care at all what that latest name-calling China is directing at America this week. So what's the point?

The fear and panic messages are directed at Chinese people, many of whom are now blaming Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for mishandling the crisis.

Concern is growing among the CCP thugs that the Wuhan coronavirus health crisis could lead to enough social unrest to threaten the CCP itself. At the very least, the crisis is the greatest political challenge that Xi Jinping has faced since he took power in 2012.

There's a certain irrestible irony about this. Xi Jinping has for years tried to protect himself by ordering an increasingly brutal and violent crackdown on peaceful protesters, Christians, Buddhists, Muslims, and Hong Kong activists, and now is facing a threat -- Wuhan coronovirus -- that he can't control with his usual arsenal of beatings, torture, rape and jailings. That fact alone should provide some moral lessons to the dictator in fear of losing the Mandate from Heaven.

Food prices are soaring in Wuhan, and pictures on social media show empty shelves in supermarkets. Restrictions on transport are hindering efforts to bring food and medicines into Wuhan, and as popular discontent increases, CCP officials are desperately trying to find the source of the photos of empty supermarket shelves.

The city of Wuhan has a population of 11 million, but as the virus spread, millions of people fled the city before it was finally locked down on January 24. Outside Wuhan, people from Wuhan are being told that they're not welcome, and they're being barred from entering other cities. Some places are refusing entry to cars from Hubei Province, where Wuhan is located, and gas stations are refusing to fuel cars with Wuhan license plates, while hotels are refusing to accommodate guests from Hubei.

The threat of social unrest goes outside the borders of China. Already there are reports that Chinese people in public are being targeted with insults in some countries, because of increased xenophobia caused by potential spread of coronavirus. If coronavirus spreads to other countries, it could lead to social unrest in countries, such as those with projects in China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), where enclaves of Chinese cities have to coexist with locals.

The Timeline for the coming months

It's clear from listening to analysts and experts that, at this time, no one knows how long this crisis will continue, or whether it will metastasize into a larger worldwise pandemic.

Those who hope that the worst will be over by March 1 are probably dreaming or lying, but at least it is possible that by March 1 we'll have answers to some important questions.

First, there have been no major outbreaks of the disease outside of China. Most cases have been in people who had just returned from a trip to China, rather than in someone who was affected by another person outside of China. So by March 1, we should know whether there are going to be outbreaks in any other countries.

This depends on a question that is still largely unanswered: How easily can the disease pass from person to person? The crucial question, still unanswered, is whether a person who has not yet shown symptoms infect another person.

If a person has to show symptoms before he can infect another person, then it should be possible to limit the spread in most countries. Standard techniques of quarantining people with symptoms and using contact tracing to find other possible cases should be effective. However, if a person can infect another person without showing symptoms, then these standard techniques won't work. By March 1, we should know the answer to this question.

Either way, the best outcomes should be possible in America, the West, and other developed countries. Underdeveloped countries in Africa, and elsewhere probably don't have the medical infrastructure and resources to contain an outbreak. The Ebola outbreak in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been ongoing for months, and has been mostly contained only with the help of a massive international effort. If there are multiple outbreaks of coronavirus in multiple countries, the resources to control them will not be available.

A related subject is that the Ebola breakout in eastern DRC is being contained with the help of millions of doses of a vaccine for Ebola that has recently been developed. Several companies are working on a vaccine for Wuhan coronavirus, but development, testing and production of such a vaccine will require over a year.

Globally, there are about 2,000 new cases of Wuhan coronavirus every day. That number has not yet shown any sign of peaking and falling, at this time. By March 1, it will hopefully have begun to do so. So we should know by March 1 whether that is happening.

Some analysts are saying that we should know within a week or two. Chinese cities with large outbreaks were locked down on January 24, and there is a two-week incubation period. Therefore, according to this reasoning, within the next week or two the number of new cases should start falling. We shall see.

Another thing that we don't know is whether the virus can spread easily only in winter, and will be blocked by warm summer weather. If so, then the pandemic should be over by May or June, although it may reappear in the southern hemisphere after that.

The 'Black Swan' events after the Wuhan coronavirus

The Wuhan coronavirus pandemic in China is being called a "Black Swan" event because it was completely unexpected and unplanned, and because it could have devastating consequences.

It may lead to other "Black Swan" events.

First, China's economy is being devastated, and the effects are overflowing into all the countries in the region. China is injecting $713 billion of money into China's economy in the hope of preventing the worst. However, with so much debt in China and beyond, it's possible that missed payments in China and region will force businesses into bankruptcy, resulting in a chain reaction of missed payments and missed deadlines, and a global financial crisis. That's one additional "Black Swan" possibility.

Second, China's social fabric is extremely fragile, and the number of anti-government protests has been growing for years. As I've written in the past, China's history is filled with anti-government rebellions and coups that have occurred with regularity for millennia. The last two massive rebellions began in China's south, near Hong Kong. Mao Zedong's Long March that led to the Communist revolution civil war (1934-49) started in the south. The massive Taiping Rebellion (1852-64), which was led by a Christian convert who believed he was the son of God and the younger brother of Jesus, began in the south and spread north. It's now been 71 years since the end of the last rebellion, and so China is overdue for its next rebellion, and that would be another possible "Black Swan."

To prevent this, the CCP is mounting a campaign of blaming the United States. Most Chinese people know that the CCP is corrupt and full of crap, so this is unlikely to work.

John Xenakis is author of: "World View: War Between China and Japan: Why America Must Be Prepared" (Generational Theory Book Series, Book 2), June 2019, Paperback: 331 pages, with over 200 source references, $13.99


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2-Feb-20 World View -- Wuhan coronavirus hits China's economy hard, threatens world economy

Investors nervous as China's stock market to reopen on Monday

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from

Investors nervous as China's stock market to reopen on Monday

New York's annual Lunar New Year parade on January 25 (Getty)
New York's annual Lunar New Year parade on January 25 (Getty)

Investors are nervously waiting to see what will happen on Monday, when China's stock market reopens for the first time since the beginning of the Lunar New Year celebrations. It closed down 3.1% on January 23, and has been closed since then. It was supposed to open last week on Thursday, but the opening was postponed until February 3 because of the Wuhan coronavirus crisis.

Taiwan's stock exchange did open on Thursday, and fell nearly 6%. Hong Kong's Hang Seng stock market index also fell nearly 6%.

Worldwide there have been 14,000 confirmed cases, with 304 deaths. That means that 2.1% of confirmed Wuhan coronavirus cases are ending in death. Deaths from ordinary influenza are closer to 0.1%.

Not that there's been much of a Lunar New Year celebration this year. Coronavirus is now present in every province of China.

China’s economy seems to be grinding to a halt. Sixteen cities in China, with a combined population of more than 50 million people, are on lockdown, and people are prevented from leaving. Shops and restaurants in many cities are completely deserted, as people are afraid to leave their homes.

The only exception seems to be long lines where people camp out for hours to puchase protective face masks. They've been sold out everywhere, but Chinese officials have announced that prisoners are working day and night to make millions more face masks.

Tourism will be hit hard. Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and the Philippines have stopped accepting visitors from China’s Hubei province, and Russia and Mongolia have closed their borders with China.

Many countries are imposing travel bans from China. On Saturday, Australia and the United States joined Israel, Vietnam, Italy, Philippines and Qatar to suspend flights from China. In the United States, the government has put about 200 US citizens repatriated from Wuhan under legal quarantine at March Air Reserve Base in Southern California. The group includes State Department personnel, family members, children and other Americans. It’s the first time such a policy has been used in the US since the 1960s, when a quarantine order was issued to stop the spread of smallpox.

Dangers of social unrest in China

The coronavirus crisis could cost China's economy $60 billion this quarter. There were already millions of people unemployed, and the coronavirus has forced many small businesses to close. Many economists are concerned about massive layoffs in March, because of loss of revenue in January and February, caused by a combination of the Lunar New Year holiday and coronavirus.

Many businesses and factories have had to close temporarily to prevent further spread of the disease. Where possible, people are being ordered to work at home, but for many that will not be possible.

As long as the number of new cases increases every day, then the end is not in sight. When the number of new cases peaks and starts to decrease, that will signal the beginning of the end of the pandemic. That's likely to occur as winter ends, around May or June in the northern hemisphere. It may strike the southern hemisphere after that.

Officials in China are hoping that the things will start to return to "normal" by March 1, but there's a possibility that nothing will change for two or three additional months.

This is exactly the kind of potential social unrest situation that the paranoid Chinese Communist Party (CCP) thugs fear the most. Most ordinary Chinese know that the CCP thugs are corrupt, incompetent, and violent, but there's a kind of contract between them. The people will keep quiet as long as there's plenty of employment and the livin' is easy. When that deal begins to fall apart, a full-scale rebellion becomes a possibility.

As I've written in the past, Hong Kong is on the fault line between northern and southern China. ( "22-Jun-19 World View -- Hong Kong protests show historic split between northern and southern China")

Southeast China was the starting point of the last two massive Chinese anti-government rebellions. Mao Zedong's Long March that led to the Communist revolution civil war (1934-49) started in the south. The massive Taiping Rebellion (1852-64), which was led by a Christian convert who believed he was the son of God and the younger brother of Jesus, began in the south and spread north.

The ethnic fault line between north and south is just as active today as it ever was, and China is overdue for a new north-south rebellion. So there's already massive unrest in Hong Kong, and now the country is on the verge of large-scale unemployment. China has had massive anti-government rebellions at regular intervales for millennia. It's now been 71 years since the end of the last rebellion, and so China is overdue for its next rebellion.

The CCP thugs are aware of this, and so the People's Bank of China (PBOC), the country's central bank, has promised to flood the financial markets with liquidity, and to increase spending in whatever sectors it can.

Whether that will work remains to be seen. China spent huge amounts of money to weather the financial crisis of ten years ago. China has been spending massive amounts of money in many countries with its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Even China has some limits on the amount of money it can spend.

Effects of Wuhan coronavirus on global stock markets

There's been a discussion in the Generational Dynamics forum in the last few days about whether this will be the trigger for a global financial crisis and stock market crash, since Wall Street stocks are in a huge bubble, bigger than 1929.

My response is that I don't think so. If you look back at previous panics -- the 1929 panic, the 1987 false panic, and the flash crash of a few years ago -- they were all completely unexpected. In other words, you can't "expect" a panic. A panic is, almost by definition, "unexpectable." Therefore, if a panic is now "expected," then it can't occur now. So there might be a 20% stock market correction, but not a full-scale financial panic.

However, another person has pointed out a flaw in my logic. Since the panic is "expected," then it can't happen. Therefore, it's "unexpected." Therefore it can happen. See how easy it is to tie yourself up in knots?

At any rate, people investing in the stock market should be very cautious these days. The stock market is in the biggest bubble in world history, and so really anything can happen.

John Xenakis is author of: "World View: War Between China and Japan: Why America Must Be Prepared" (Generational Theory Book Series, Book 2), June 2019, Paperback: 331 pages, with over 200 source references, $13.99


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