Some Thoughts On Russia

There are several things going on with Russia right now. Connecting them all together is an interesting exercise. I’ve collected several links about it, unfortunately spread over a half dozen browsers on three platforms, a couple of which are no longer available, plus many saved onto a USB drive that is a bit hard to search. So I’ll likely find a couple of other links via a new search or three.

The basics are:

Russia, Brazil, and China are cooperating on setting up their own Internet Backbone that avoids USA intrusive control and monitoring. They have caught on that the NSA via Prism has put data collection and backdoor access into just about every major operating system and router product ( i.e. Cisco, Microsoft, Google, Apple, etc. etc.) along with any Telco of note ( AT&T, et. al.) and don’t like it. So for traffic between their countries, and with friends and hangers on, they are looking to move that outside of US and US based company control.

http://www.brazil-stockmarket.com/index-of-brazil/nsa-spying-scandal-spurs-bric-countries-to-build-own-undersea-cable-network/

NSA spying scandal spurs BRIC countries to build own Undersea cable network
October 25, 2013 By Economyman Leave a Comment
The BRICS countries are in the process of completing a brand new Internet CABLE backbone that would bypass the United States entirely and to ensure the protection of the bric countries from the US governments NSA spying.
Brazil will be in center stage with this project and is set to finalize a 34,000-kilometre undersea fiber-optic cable by 2015 that will run from Vladivostok –> Russia to -> Fortaleza –> Brazil, via Shantou –> China –> Chennai, India —> and Cape Town, South Africa (PIC BELOW)

BRICS undersea internet backbone

Russia, China, and maybe Brazil are cooperating on setting up oil trade not in $US, so that money flows are not subject to USA observation / control / embargo / whatever. For oil price in $US, those dollars “clear” at US Banks, so are observed and controlled by the US agencies. Trade in Rubles or Yuan or Reals clears in their banks. As we’ve way overused “trade embargo” and asset freezes, there are a very many countries that would be quite happy to leave the USA / EU / UK banking umbrella and tell us to go bugger off. Most of the Muslim world, for example, along with major parts of Latin America (think Venezuela, for example).

http://www.ibtimes.com/china-russia-currency-agreement-further-threatens-us-dollar-248338

China and Russia have agreed to allow their currencies to trade against each other in spot inter-bank markets.

The motive is to promote the bilateral trade between China and Russia, facilitate the cross-border trade settlement of [the yuan], and meet the needs of economic entities to reduce the conversion cost, according to Chinese officials.

This latest move — a continuation in a series of efforts by both countries to move away from U.S. dollar usage in international trade — further threatens the dollar’s reserve currency status.

Russia sees itself as the natural inheritor of the Eastern Roman Empire and the Eastern Orthodox Church from it. It might be cynical, or it might be more of a cultural touchstone, but there it is. And what does an Empire do, by birthright? Sustain itself, expand its borders, “protect” its citizens (often as the expense of those not of the central type…), and generally not take direction from others. Putin knows this. The Russian people remember when they were a super power. Their history is full of Varangean Guards bring treasure (and religion and writing and…) back from the Eastern Empire. Unlike us in the West, Russia remembers history.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Varangians

The Varangians or Varyags (Old Norse: Væringjar; Greek: Βάραγγοι, Βαριάγοι, Varangoi, Variagoi) was the name given by Greeks and East Slavs to Vikings, who between the 9th and 11th centuries ruled the medieval state of Rus’ and formed the Byzantine Varangian Guard. According to the 12th century Kievan Primary Chronicle, a group of Varangians known as the Rus’ settled in Novgorod in 862 under the leadership of Rurik. Before Rurik, the Rus’ might have ruled an earlier hypothetical polity. Rurik’s relative Oleg conquered Kiev in 882 and established the state of Kievan Rus’, which was later ruled by Rurik’s descendants.

Engaging in trade, piracy, and mercenary activities, Varangians roamed the river systems and portages of Gardariki, as the areas north of the Black Sea were known in the Norse sagas. They controlled the Volga trade route (Route from the Varangians to the Arabs), connecting the Baltic to the Caspian Sea, and the Dnieper trade route (Route from the Varangians to the Greeks) leading to the Black Sea and Constantinople. Those were the critically important trade links at that time, connecting Medieval Europe with wealthy and developed Arab Caliphates and the Byzantine Empire;[11] Most of the silver coinage in the West came from the East via those routes. Attracted by the riches of Constantinople, the Varangian Rus’ initiated a number of Rus’-Byzantine Wars, some of which resulted in advantageous trade treaties. At least from the early 10th century many Varangians served as mercenaries in the Byzantine Army, constituting the elite Varangian Guard (the personal bodyguards of Byzantine Emperors). Eventually most of them, both in Byzantium and in Eastern Europe, were converted from paganism to Orthodox Christianity, culminating in the Christianization of Kievan Rus’ in 988. Coinciding with the general decline of the Viking Age, the influx of Scandinavians to Rus’ stopped, and Varangians were gradually assimilated by East Slavs by the late 11th century.

The start of Russia as The Rus is directly connected to the Eastern Empire, and to Ukraine. The know that when you need some coin, a shakedown of the West is a good place to start. They also know that they are the last bastion of that Empire, and the place preserving it and the Eastern Orthodoxy for the good of everyone else (want it or not…)

The also know that starting a war or two can be a great way to get advantage. Land, money, contracts, treaties. It’s just another tool of the trade.

Compare with The West

We are continuing in the Western Empire tradition (in the EU) where infighting and petty bickering is in competition with Empire Corruption and the extortion of more taxes from the subjugated peoples. Not much different from all the OTHER prior attempts at Western Empire. From the various sizes and shapes of the Roman Empire, to the Holy Roman Empire (when the Germans tried to operated it), to Napoleon when the French took a crack at it, and even to that more or less polite English Empire, that slopped over into Africa, India, and North America; among other places, since Europe was kind of taken at the time. (Along the way there were also Spanish Empire, and some others). All questing in their own way for those good old days of Rome and the lucre of Empire.

The USA, for a long while, was the place where the Celt ideals had control. No central empire. Distributed local control. Things had to be done via the vote and approval of the people. “Delegation upward” only if the cause was just. Then, about the start of W.W.I to the end of W.W.II, that started to be replaced with Central Authority, which has slowly turned our Republic ever more into an Empire-wanna-be. We now have an, effectively, Police State; what with the degree of intrusive monitoring and central authority; more cops and prisons that any sane country really needs. We still have the form of a Republic, but it is tenuous at best now. Rather like the old Roman Republic, we are well on our way to having created an unstoppable Central Authority, just waiting for the Emperor Wanna-be who is willing to grasp it. Every president since Ike has moved for more Presidential authority. Never has power moved back to local control. It is only a matter of time, now.

So we have a couple of places vying to be The New Rome.

But the problem is that having two Empires has never been very stable…

So the USA has had ongoing direct conflict with Russia / USSR. And a load of ‘by proxy’ conflict. Post W.W.II, the EU was mostly just trying to reassemble itself. Now the New Western Roman Empire is effectively a ‘done deal’. Britain is still a bit on the sidelines, fondly remembering the ‘good old days’ when it had its own global empire… but is pretty much inside the pen. I suppose that by some great effort it might be able to escape, but doubt it will really try.

The Western Empire is now dependent on the Eastern Empire for a load of fuel, and some amount of food. The Eastern Empire needs some technology from the West, but not much anymore (and increasingly can get nearly anything tech or manufactures it needs from China – who have always been their own Empire…) There is inherent tension between these two poles of the Redux Roman Empires.

And on the side, we have the USA. Pot stirring. Going on adventures (often ill advised). Nice cash cow to be milked by all. But increasingly a decrepit thing. Manufacture pretty much off to China other than very specialized things, or things with very high shipping costs or very small scale. Oh, and Subsidy Queens like GM. Lead by a toothless and often clueless wonder, who mostly doesn’t understand at all how an economy works, what strategic thinking is, or how military power really ought to be used. Looking for political advantage, not strategic advantage.

The Wildcard

But all analogies break down on changed things. Rome did not face a Muslim Empire. Byzantium did, and fell to it. So there is a big unknown in how these two Empires Redux will respond to a resurgent Islam this time. The Holy Roman Empire did face them a bit at the borders, but mostly the task fell to the Spanish and Portuguese (modulo the French kicking them out of France).

So as Islam looks to recreate their various Empires (such as the Ottoman Empire), they are running head long into the Rome Again Rome Again… Oddly, this time the French are welcoming them in. Greece and Spain may have a stronger memory of what it was like, having had a few hundred years of subjugation. Russia knows the risks, yet is playing a close friend to many Islamic states. It is very unclear to me how Russia sees this all, or plans to ‘sort it out’.

Yet what is clear is that the old Ottomans are looking to reform the Caliphate, with Turkey torn between old Byzantine glory and a New Turk role; with much of North Africa and the Levant in turmoil. So this is already a place with fuel in the streets and folks running around with torches. Sparks now blowing in the wind into Paris and more of the EU.

So What’s The World To Do?

Sigh.

I do wish the Celtic Ideals were more prevalent in the world today. Less dreams of Empire and more dreams of local authority, individual rights and freedoms. But it isn’t.

If history shows anything at all, it shows that the drive to Empire is strong, and persistent. It takes constant vigilance to suppress it; and right now nobody is doing much of anything to even slow down the rush to Empire. Which is followed close behind by domestic oppression and international wars.

Worse, we have at least 4 (and likely more) resurgent Empires. East and West New Rome, The USA on its way, New Ottoman Caliphate, and a couple of ‘wanna-be’ efforts with the integration efforts in South America into a new Spanish Empire of sorts (but still too weak to matter) based on an EU model, and China starting to feel its oats and getting pushy.

How do I think this will play out?

First off, Islam is never ever going to stop pushing to convert and occupy the entire world. It is a core of the religion. So for starters, getting that old Caliphate back up and functioning will be a returning goal. The only good news being that insiders fighting each other tends to slow down their progress. That, and when you spend most of your waking hours creating mayhem or reading the Koran, it doesn’t leave a lot of time for manufacture and technical advancement. So I’d expect them to continue to be a PITA to everyone else, but not make much progress outside of the “war of the womb” replacing the EU from within. That will take a generation (about 30 years).

Second, Putin is unlikely to want to wait 30 years. He wants things inside his remaining active lifetime. Call it 20 years, tops. So I’d put Russia in play, well, now.

The EU is playing a slow game, and with the British “Great Game” advice, is mostly working to get their interior controls tightened up, make mayhem in the Russian underbelly, and suck up all the money they can for personal gain. Besides, they can use the US Army any time they want to make some military adventures, and doing it cheap too… So I’d expect the EU to avoid any actual military adventures (at least beyond that needed to get the Americans to do most of it).

But what happens when Putin takes some more of the EU empire for his own? Hmmm…. And will China continue to just arrange it so the USA weakens and they can do whatever they want locally? That’s where it gets sticky. China will spread power and control locally (on their borders), but mostly look to create problems by proxy for the USA and Japan. A border truce with Russia is likely, and perhaps even cooperation with each looking to ‘other borders’ for gains. (Expect China to help India and Pakistan find reasons to fight each other…)

Which leaves Russia with reforming the old Soviet Empire territories. As, so far, the Western Response as been a very loud “Tsk Tsk!” and some refusal to sell things (along with a loud begging noise for more gas, please…), I think Putin knows he has an essentially free hand. As long as he only does “one country a year”… Evidence? Well, Ukraine has been the most recent pain. He’s still there. Oh, and longer term looking to cut them out of the gas pipeline trade…

http://www.businessweek.com/news/2015-01-14/russia-to-shift-ukraine-gas-transit-to-turkey-as-eu-cries-foul

Bloomberg News
Russia to Shift Ukraine Gas Transit to Turkey as EU Cries Foul
By Elena Mazneva January 14, 2015

Russia plans to shift all its natural gas flows crossing Ukraine to a route via Turkey, a surprise move that the European Union’s energy chief said would hurt its reputation as a supplier.

The decision makes no economic sense, Maros Sefcovic, the European Commission’s vice president for energy union, told reporters today after talks with Russian government officials and the head of gas exporter, OAO Gazprom (GAZP), in Moscow.

Gazprom, the world’s biggest natural gas supplier, plans to send 63 billion cubic meters through a proposed link under the Black Sea to Turkey, fully replacing shipments via Ukraine, Chief Executive Officer Alexey Miller said during the discussions. About 40 percent of Russia’s gas exports to Europe and Turkey travel through Ukraine’s Soviet-era network.

Now the EU is all “panties in a bunch” over this, as the gas does not end up in the cold north where the Holy Roman Empire wants it to be. It doesn’t connect well with the EU pipelines.

Sefcovic said he was “very surprised” by Miller’s comment, adding that relying on a Turkish route, without Ukraine, won’t fit with the EU’s gas system.

Gazprom plans to deliver the fuel to Turkey’s border with Greece and “it’s up to the EU to decide what to do” with it further, according to Sefcovic.

Different Habits

“We don’t work like this,” he said. “The trading system and trading habits — how we do it today — are different.”

Sefcovic said he arrived in the Russian capital to discuss supplies to south-eastern EU countries after Putin scrapped the proposed $45 billion South Stream pipeline. The region, even if Turkey is included, doesn’t need the volumes Gazprom is planning for a new link, he said.

It is clearly a strategic move by Russia to be able to “convince” Ukraine that they want to be in the tender embrace of the folks who can shut off the gas… and to be able to tell the EU to “shut up and let us have a free hand”, or be very cold and hungry…

It also ties the New East Byzantine Empire with the New Ottoman Turks more closely. That needs more thought… Just why, and why is Putin feeling good about that ‘tie up’ of empires… Perhaps angling for more reason to control more southern lands and ports… Black Sea anyone?

Meanwhile, back at the EU and USA

We are playing Stupid Games with windmills… (In fairness, the private sector of the USA is still doing a great job of that Celtic thing with fracking and drilling and producing in a not-so-central-planned kind of way here in the USA ;-)

The 28-nation EU is planning build an energy union to reduce dependence on Russia and facilitate transition to a low-carbon economy. Russia was planning South Stream for about a decade, first claiming it would meet expanding demand in the EU, then saying would ensure supplies from high transit risks via Ukraine.

I’m reminded of a business cartoon I saw once, long ago. A mainframe company named Sperry was having hard times, and another old line one named Univac was also having pains. The cartoon showed two rocks on the bottom of a river with a rope tide to both of them. Each labeled with one of those names. The caption read “Maybe if we tie ourselves together we will float…” Eventually a merger happened, and Unisys was the result. Their 10 year chart is pretty dismal, and this event preceded it by many more years of decline:

UIS Unysis 10 year chart vs other assets Jan2015

UIS Unysis 10 year chart vs other assets Jan2015

Yes, that thing flat-lined to the right bottom is it…

Only for the EU, it’s 28 rocks on the bottom and 28 x 28 ropes, and some windmills tied in too. Yeah, that’s gonna make ’em float… that “tie up” is not going to fix things. Energy production does not care how many of you are sharing a legal framework…

IMHO, this all ends up in an odd paradigm.

The New Eastern Empire is joining forces with the Caliphate, to sap and drain the New Western Empire. As The Western Empire evolves into dependence and turmoil, Russia takes the cold north, the Caliphate the warm south. The USA is not even at the table; being far too occupied with Political Correctness internally and with redistributing the deck chairs and assuring everyone has tickets to the Orchestra Deck during the holing of our ship of economy.

Eventually we have China dominating in the East and South East Asia. Russia with the northern cold band into Germany and Scandinavia (perhaps with a bit of north France too). The UK holding the remains of the Western Empire (i.e. not much…), but they are good at that… and the USA more feeble and self centered, merging into a Latin Empire of Mañana Life Style.

How long? Hard to say, but I’d put it as 20 years, max, for Europe / Russia and closer to a 10 year goal for the New Caliphate / Ottoman Turks. USA perhaps a bit longer, and it is always possible the UK and parts of the EU might not like this and could start a ruckus about it.

I would also hope that Russia gets some hard push back on recent Empire Building and needs to slow down. I’d also hope that The West figures out that The New Caliphate has their eyes firmly on ALL prior Muslim territory, including Spain, Greece, et. al. (The Koran demands it. Yes, it specifically demands than any territory ever converted to Islam must be recaptured; so they ARE going to go for it.) “But hope is not a strategy. -E.M.Smith”…

In the end, is there anywhere left for the free and independent spirits of the world to live in a place with minimal Central Authority and maximum local control, freedom, and privacy? Maybe on some uninteresting island somewhere in a 3rd world economic context… but even then, Empires have tended to capture them…

For a good 100 years or so, the USA has been the place keeping Empire at bay. Yes, Canada and Australia and even New Zealand have joined in (after the British Empire let them go). But the last 50 years has seen a significant erosion of real freedoms, real liberty, and nearly all real privacy. Much of the world is already in functional police states of one or another “Empires In The Making”. If the USA continues the present path to decline and self absorption, just who will stop Empires from taking over? All it takes for evil to triumph is for men of good will to do nothing (paraphrase of Edmund Burke) and we are certainly busy doing nothing that matters. Tilting at windmills, railing at the weather, and worried about who is most easily upset by speech of which they do not approve. Oh, and redistributing ever smaller slices of pie with ever larger vig taken at each redistribution…

So watch The New Caliphate and Putin, as they have the shortest time lines, near as I can tell.

Somehow this must change. But at present, the changes are all toward more Empire, and the inevitable following wars and tyranny.

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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74 Responses to Some Thoughts On Russia

  1. Graeme No.3 says:

    Russia has a significant moslem minority within its borders and a number of moslem countries along its SE border.
    The Caliphate collapsed with the shia-sunni split, back to a smallish area around Bagdad until it was wiped out by the Mongols. There was no Caliph for hundreds of years until the moribund turkish sultans tried to gain support. Didn’t help them in 1914-18. Yes, the Turks are nationalistic and quite likely if times are favourable of annexing northern Syria (and perhaps the oil area of Iraq but that runs into Kurdish opposition). The rest of the ME hates them (except Israel, but the current turkish president is doing his best to upset the Israelis).
    The Iranians remember that they were a largish empire, but they have neighbours who fought to be independent from them and will do so again because they are mainly sunni, not shia-ites as in Iran.
    China and India have fought once (largely Indian grabbing chinese territory). Since then China has confined itself to wars against Taiwan, Vietnam and Russia, and the USA (and others) in Korea, all about threats to chinese borders and not attempts to gain territory. Also, they have 2 well developed countries (Sth. Korea and Japan) that will oppose any attempt at expansion.

    The USA might be the dying elephant of empire but it is too strong for the pack of hyenas tracking it, and they’re quarrelling among themselves. Unless California slides into the Pacific.

    Before you emigrate remember the cautionary tale of the Dutchman in 1938.
    He worked out that there was going to be a World War.
    This time Germany would invade Holland (and he didn’t want to be there then).
    He believed that Japan would get involved.
    He decided to go away to some distant place, so obscure that practically no-one had heard of it.
    So by late 1939 when war broke out in Europe he was living on his plantation in the South Pacific, away from any possible war.
    Where was that? Guadalcanal!

  2. Adam Gallon says:

    The kerfuffle in the Ukraine is probably a direct result of expansionist desires amongst the EU hierachy.
    They make welcoming noises to the Ukraine, “Come & join us” (Along with a little, “Ahem, you might be welcomed in NATO too”).
    Russia has a “WTF”? moment, as the last time Europe (Under the auspicies of one Herr Hitler) snuggled up against their borders, it didn’t go too well.
    The Ukraine kicks up a fuss, when a chunk of its territory (The Crimea) votes to return to the cosy arms of Mother Russia. Looking at its history, Crimea was gifted to the Ukraine by Kruschev in 1954, the indiginant population (The Tartars) having been kicked out by Stalin post WW2 & repopulated with Russians.
    Putin does seem to want to reassemble the USSR.
    Luckily for most of us, the violent elements of Islam do seem keener of killing each other, with Sunni & Shia being at each other’s throats. Mix in some pure tribalism as seen in Nigeria with Boko Haram & rampant corruption and there’s a fine mess.
    The UN wives its arms and prattles about the big threat of climate change, whilst the real threat is instability in Africa. Somalia is erupting again, ongoing troubles in North Africa & The Levant pushing refugees towards Europe.

  3. omanuel says:

    I am convinced Joseph Stalin himself played a key role in designing “The Great Social Experiment of 1945-2015″

    https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/10640850/Social_Experiment.pdf

    Who else would use the entire human population in such a worldwide social experiment, without consent?

  4. philjourdan says:

    Very interesting analysis, and one I mostly agree with. I do appreciate Graeme #3’s anecdote. I think it dovetails well with your Analysis.

    I want to scream you are wrong. But I do not see it. Time is the only ally the USA has left. If we can get b*tch slapped hard enough and with enough time left, it may survive (only due to the natural borders of the sea). But others will see as I doubt I will be around for that.

    But one final laugh we will have is at the BRICS and their new Internet. It is easy to build, but the lesson of the Internet is that no one controlling authority can manage it all. Not even by delegation. They will find that out soon enough.

  5. Gary P Smith says:

    Sorry to waste your moderating time, but I have a new email address and want to re-subscribe to your blog. As always, a nice read.

  6. p.g.sharrow says:

    The World Wide Web will be the end of this “Game of Thrones”. Even as several nations vie for control over it, private firms plot to by-pass their control of the land lines and move the connections into near space orbit. For 30 years I have been telling freedom advocates to look to their computers and the Internet as their way to limit the grasp of over reaching bureaucrats. There is no longer a way for politicians, bureaucrats and their friends can hide their machinations from the people. Nothing can be kept secret for long when the knowledge can be broadcast immediately world wide.
    The Celtic way of self organized chaos will win out over the Empire Builders that depend on captive minds and plundering. pg

  7. R. de Haan says:

    From an historic view every attempt to create a Global Empire has failed.
    Russia, invaded by powers from the West, from Napoleon to Hitler, perfectly made use of the enormous landmass and the harsh winter conditions.

    The Russian winter conditions killed more French and German military than actually fighting the Russians.

    So sacrificing their homes, their villages, their towns following the strategy of burned earth leaving advancing armies with long supply lines and a totally empty land with nothing left to eat or use, has proofed to be an incredible effective tactic.

    If necessary they will use this tactic again.

    The only difference between Russia from the past and Russia today is a substantial amount of nuclear arms including over 10.000 nuclear artillery grenades and believe me they will use them if needed.
    Russians will never tolerate the presence of a foreign invader on their soil.
    They will pay any price and fight to the last man.

  8. omanuel says:

    I agree. The game of thrones is over because world leaders in fact have absolutely NO POWER.

    They are descendants of frightened world leaders that agreed in 1945 to follow Joseph Stalin’s “Great Social Experiment of 1945-2015:″

    https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/10640850/Social_Experiment.pdf

    Who else but Stalin would enroll the entire human population in such a worldwide social experiment, without their consent?

    Since they have accumulated no real power over the past seventy years, only more “Delusions of Grandeur”, members of society may free themselves by individually returning their allegiance to the God of their own understanding . . .

    to the Higher Power that controls the pulsar cores of ordinary stars in using NEUTRON REPULSION to produce, destroy and/or sustain atoms, lives and worlds !

  9. Reblogged this on The GOLDEN RULE and commented:
    I am excited about reblogging this post.
    E.M.Smith presents an intelligent, well researched, well assessed, well written and educational treatise on what could be termed, “Current Empire Building – State of the World”.
    I hope readers gain a lot from this, it certainly has a great deal to offer!
    What he titles “thoughts on Russia” is so much more than that!
    “And on the side, we have the USA. Pot stirring. Going on adventures (often ill advised). Nice cash cow to be milked by all. But increasingly a decrepit thing. Manufacture pretty much off to China other than very specialized things, or things with very high shipping costs or very small scale. Oh, and Subsidy Queens like GM. Lead by a toothless and often clueless wonder, who mostly doesn’t understand at all how an economy works, what strategic thinking is, or how military power really ought to be used. Looking for political advantage, not strategic advantage. ”
    What an enormous understatement – US “pot stirring” when it really entails serious interference in sovereign countries per invasion, infiltration, security breaching, collusion with enemies, torture, homeland bankruptcy and creation of a police state (a fascist one at that) – the list goes on.

  10. M Simon says:

    Gates of Vienna?

    And the problem of the Eastern Empires has always been top down control. That sort of thing does not handle disruption well. And we have two big disruptors on the horizon. Small shop/home manufacturing with CNC and 3D printing. And cannabinoid medicine.

    The USA (backwards as it is) is a leader in both fields. And both are fueled by wild card technologists.

  11. M Simon says:

    R. de Haan says:
    23 January 2015 at 1:47 am

    You are looking at he wrong fight. Russia will be disrupted the same way it was in 1988. Oil price and ideas. And a dependence on outsiders for significant production.

  12. Crimea was always Russian, and Always will be! There are more Russian solders buried there than are living people on the place!
    2] Khrushchev gave Crimea to Ukraine in 65, to manage water, electricity and sewage, nothing more! At that time, Crimea AND Kiev were under Kremlin total control!

    3]NATO wanted to use some hooligan aristocracy in Kiev,, to take of the only warm-water port for Russia = Pentagon is asking for trouble – to justify for extra money for the military.

    4] the misleading western propaganda that: Putin is arming the rebels; is totally wrong a] those people are not rebels – they want free referendum, as the one Scots had. b] those weapons were given to them 35y ago, by Brezhnev, not now by Putin! c] before the trouble started 35% of the Ukrainian army were ethnic Russians – they have taken all those weapons from the Ukrainian army, where they were officers and solders!

    5] there are 18 million ethnic Russians in Ukraine – as all men have being conscripts – they can mobilize 5 million solder – instead of 5000 fighters, but they don’t, because they don’t have weapons – they don’t have weapons, because Putin is not giving them weapons. West is mutilating the truth!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  13. M Simon says:

    Never has power moved back to local control. It is only a matter of time, now.

    We have a really vibrant States Rights movement in the US these days. On the left with cannabis and on the right wit opposition to Obama care. You are making your pronouncement of inevitable just as the tide is turning.

    The Republicans couldn’t get a Federal anti-abortion bill passed. They missed the very movement they champion. The irony is delicious. And indicative.

  14. Larry Ledwick says:

    Interesting article in National Review about Iran and their defacto empire building.

    http://www.nationalreview.com/article/396989/emerging-iranian-empire-charles-krauthammer

    It should be noted that Russia is making a significant effort to get influence with Iran, so it is conceivable that you could have a Russian/Iranian axis develop to both harass the west but to deflate the importance of the Saudi oil dominance. With today’s death of the King in Saudi Arabia we of course will have a period of jostling for power in the kingdom and a period of vulnerability that could be exploited by either Iran or Russia. Russia has a direct concern due to the effect of low oil prices on its national budget.

    If you then throw in the apparent interest of the Turks to become major players in the area you have a volatile mixture being stirred up by several different agendas. The next decade could get very interesting very fast as old norms of power and control are breaking down and new players are jockeying for influence and control.

  15. M Simon says:

    along with a loud begging noise for more gas, please…

    Poland has started fracking. If that spreads to the rest of Europe….

    ==============

    BTW my 2:53 am went into moderation.

  16. M Simon says:

    and to be able to tell the EU to “shut up and let us have a free hand”, or be very cold and hungry…

    But it is a two edged sword. Who will buy their gas if the EU doesn’t? The EU will be cold and Russia will be broke.

    BTW cannabinoid medicine fully exploited could save the US between $500bn and $1,500 bn a year. And that is a trillion dollars (mid point) every year.

  17. bruce says:

    From what I have read Russia is loosing population and the young talent. Doesn’t bode well.

  18. p.g.sharrow says:

    Bruce is correct. Russia is dying and has nothing like the ability of the old Soviet Union or Warsaw Pact.
    Putin is a tactician and bully, not a strategic long term thinker. He will take advantage of small border weaknesses, perhaps even saw the limb off of the tree while he is standing on it. Dangerous yes, but short term.
    The Fascists have been at this for thousands of years. They always crash the system. Central control requires Bureaucratic control of everything. Bureaucratic control of everything.always crashes the civilization, ALWAYS. We don’t need them. pg

  19. Dave says:

    I don’t think the Eastern Europeans will be so keen to allow Russia to steamroll them again so soon. Countries like Poland, Czech Republic, Lithuania, and Latvia are rapidly expanding their defense budgets. If Russia ever attempted to move West I think they would find themselves in the middle of a massive civil if not guerrilla war from their north and south flanks. Keeping nukes off the table will be difficult if not impossible during such a large scale conflict which may make the exchange short lived, but come at a terrible human cost. Russia seems powerful at the moment, but looks can be deceiving.

    View story at Medium.com

    I think what is more likely is a European civil war between native born and Islamic peoples. The Muslims don’t want to play by anyone’s rules (their faith forbids it) but their own and are unwilling to integrate or adopt the ways of their adopted European homes. Eventually that will lead to greater strife as evidenced by the recent events in France.

    Then again we have Greece:

    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-30945247

    If they default as they say they will, that could be the catalyst to all sorts of unforeseen problems. As the saying goes, “may you live in interesting times”.

  20. omanuel says:

    I regret that I do not agree with bruce and p.g.sharrow

    Images of planet Earth from space convince me that “he who controls the space around Earth also controls the planet Earth.

    Over my life this control moved from
    1. USSR after Sputnik launch in 1957
    2. USA after 1969 Apollo RT to Moon
    3. Transferred back to Russia after Kissinger flew to China in 1971 and agreed to end the Apollo program to obtain a new peace agreement with the USSR and China.
    4. Today USA relies on Russian rockets to get to the International a Space Station.

  21. @Dave

    Russia doesn’t want Poland, Latvia and the others – they had them and let them free; it was expansion because of Marxist ideology – to spread communism.
    Now there are more Marxist in US, England, than in Russia. They have being communist and will never be again. Warmist in the west are the former western communist – they are not green / they don’t care about climate! It’s only vehicle for them, to impose Marxism in the west, without Kalashnikovs

  22. E.M.Smith says:

    @Graham No. 3:

    Per China not having territorial goals: Tibet?

    They’ve shown the willingness to absorb neighbors in the past.

    Also see islands in the South China Sea along with Formosa, oh, I mean Taiwan, oh, I mean The Republic Of China… It has been traded between the Dutch, Japan, and China on and off over the years, despite what the locals wanted (originally Austronesian types). From the wiki:

    “Taiwan (excluding Penghu) was first populated by Austronesian people and was colonized by the Dutch, who had arrived in 1623. The Kingdom of Tungning, lasting from 1661 to 1683, was the first Han Chinese government to rule Taiwan. From 1683, the Qing Dynasty ruled Taiwan as a prefecture and in 1875 divided the island into two prefectures. In 1885 the island was made into a separate Chinese province to speed up development in this region. In the aftermath of the First Sino-Japanese War, Taiwan and Penghu were ceded by the Qing Dynasty to Japan in 1895. ”

    So is it Dutch, Japanese, Chinese (due to 200ish years ‘rule’ out of thousands) or does it belong to the locals? Or the Austronesians who were “moved on” over the centuries….

    China has been expansionist from the start, and it continues today. They just do it very slowly so we don’t notice (much). Get “rule” (or claim it) for a while, then make the case that it is ‘traditionally’ China and absorb. Including areas in Central Asia where red heads and “European” types were dominate in prior ages (and where getting permits to dig up old graves is ‘political’ due to them not being very Chinese Type… and that threatening the Chinese claims to the land in the ‘official view’…)

    Per inner bickering in various New Empires:

    Yes, that’s the big question. Does one of the two win, and dominate? (Or the three or four…) Or do they ‘make nice’ and share? Or does the split cause failure to form Empire? That is one of the biggest ‘wildcards’ in predicting how this is likely to unfold. (The other big bit being when trends reverse at extremes). So will Muslim divides prevent a new Caliphate? Or will there be two of them? Decisions decisions… Similar things in the EU (Germany and France have a long history of not getting along, yet the EU exists…) and in Russia (not just their Muslims, but also the Ukraine vs Russia vs other Slavs vs…) and that’s a hinge point of history to be.

    BTW, I’m not emigrating anywhere at the moment. Maybe “someday”, but only for nice beaches and low costs / taxes. I’m more itinerant anyway. I’d be happy with a boat, or a “land yacht” RV, and no real ties to any given place. Don’t need much beyond passport, suitcase of travel stuff / clothes, and a bank account. Never do get “married to a place”; though many are worth a re-visit ;-) Spouse, however, is very place-tied.

    IMHO, the USA will take a long time to “fail”, and even then will be like the old Roman Republic in failure mode. Turning first to a Tyranny / Empire, then rotting from inside and slowly fading into a side-show of global geopolitics. Likely a good 50 to 100 years more to go (and since Empire is a stable form of government, maybe longer once the full transition to Empire is done).

    @Adam Gallon:

    Yes, the EU was the proximate poke at the Bear… but when two Empires are bumping against each other, that happens. The question is who wins the tug of war… and do the Baltic States and / or Southern Slavs comes next into play…

    I carefully avoided talking about Africa simply because it IS such a Fine Mess… Islam want’s the area down to the tropics. EU would love to have Colonialism By Proxy Governments. Russia wants “influence”. China is just buying it outright with US Dollars from selling us crap. Locals are thinking about what is in it for them, and how to get it. So it goes. IMHO, it stays a mess for decades to centuries.

    @PhilJourdan:

    Given all the things competing for the attention of The Average Folks, well, I don’t expect them to pay attention until it is a full on war situation (and not just one ‘over there’ taking a bit of money and “other people’s kids”… Look at how much news time has gone into the stupidity of how inflated some footballs might have been. ( A 2 psi under inflation of some footballs in a game that decided who goes to the Superbowl has been covered for endless hours on many stations including CNN and Fox… Little mention of what temperature changes might have done to pressure…)

    So, absent evidence to the contrary, the most rational presumption is that things will continue as they are, that most folks will vote for more Central Authority, more government goodies, more governance, and more of the same; until it breaks. Then it will be too late. (Note below about States Rights… a potential inflection point).

    Per the BRICs internet: Notice it links in at Miami. They can own, and control, their own piece of it. In fact, that is how it is structured. I own, and control, the part inside my space. ( I typically build out a chunk in any place I live, with Wi-Fi, DNS, and some wired net too, and then have a “private side” behind various firewalls). So yes, “no one controls it all”, yet all of it is controlled by someone… and simply putting their traffic on their wires with their routers between their sites keeps it out of USA monitoring and control reach ( other than break-ins / hacking ).

    Similarly, I have some parts of “my internet” that are more public than others. Beyond reach / monitoring. Other bits are more “wide open” (like this Chromebox that is wide open to Google and the NSA, but has little of interest on it…). That’s all they are doing. Localizing and protecting traffic that matters.

    @Gary P. Smith:

    No worries, and thanks!

    @P.G.:

    While I share your sentiments, I’m more sanguine about who will win this style war. Empire has a long history of coming out on top for thousands of years at a time. The Celt style of distributed decisions has only had brief periods of dominance, often under a few hundred years, and often beaten back into the woodwork by Empire…

    Per unstoppable internet: That’s not the problem. It is getting the Average Folks to read, watch, and care. See above about football inflation pressure. Now think about the turnover of the Saudi Crown, ISIS / ISIL taking down nations and wanting the complete destruction of western culture, Russia snacking on neighbors, UN $Billions and the corruption of NGOs / Governments, etc. etc. Heck, not one in a 1000 knows what Agenda 21 is (and even I didn’t know a half decade or so back).

    So yes, between encrypted modems, VPNs, packet radio links, darknets, and more: it is not possible to stop the internet without pulling the plug on it. (Even then ‘people like me’ can set up local limited size intranets and bridge them via radio to the wider world). But who will notice? Or listen?

    I have students who don’t even know who Tom Hanks is, or Katy Perry, or John Philip Souza (nor heard his marches). Even though they are Portuguese Americans and these kids are native speakers of Portuguese learning American English. Think they will be paying attention to anything political? The guys mostly are interested in the fact that Kaka is moving to the Orlando Soccer team for $6 Million and the girls are more interested in who got a Calvin Kline bag (and both are interested in each other). They, like most Americans, are most interested in where the next “good time” comes from and what “goodies and toys” they can get. Not a pejorative statement, just observation of data…

    Few folks at all care about international politics and even less about international economics.

    @R. de Haan:

    Yes, that’s why my speculation has Russia advancing west against a declining EU, not the other way around… The EU being “converted” from the south to part of the New Caliphate and from the East having parts moved back into the Eastern Empire (nee Russia and ‘friends’).

    @Ken McMurtrie:

    Thanks for your kind words.

    Believe it or not, my Econ major was tilted toward International Political Economy. It’s in many ways my real passion. Blending history with economics to see potential future trends. It just doesn’t pay much, nor have I found jobs available pontificating about it ;-)

    Global Warming “stuff” and all my computer / technical work are things that just happened. Computer stuff as it is somewhat fun, I have a knack at it, and frankly there were a lot of jobs in it and it paid very well in the ’80s and ’90s. Global Warming stuff as a “some arse-hole bitch slapped me when I asked a polite question on a Warmista site and that got me ornery” then discovering it was an attempt at world domination by fraud… so it was a clear ‘duty’ to join the side of liberty… against Evil Empire builders. I’d happily walk away from both for an International Econ post at a ‘think tank’; but not having contacts nor the obligatory Ph.D. in it, that’s not going to happen. So it is just a zero-pay hobby for me. But one I’ve spent most of my life at doing.

    And yes, I do like ‘damning with faint praise’ and ‘tactical understatement for effect’… you caught me out in my preferred style ;-) Blame my British Mum…

    @M. Simon:

    Any given style of medicine has little impact on empires and politics. $500 Billion is a rounding error on our national debt… Not going to even be noticed. TARP wasn’t. The $Trillion A Year for several years hasn’t. ( $9 Trillion under Obama alone, more or less).

    Distributed manufacturing will have impacts, but frankly, every household has a full ‘manufacturing facility’ for meals, yet food service from outside the home grows every year. It isn’t just small scale “making” that is important. It is also logistics, time consumption, interest in doing it, how it ‘goes with the drapes’ (or doesn’t), finance costs and economies of scale, management skill, etc. etc. Similar things can be said about car maintenance, lawn care, gardening vs industrial farming, and more.

    It’s the ‘top down control’ that you pointed out that’s the real issue for Empires.

    I also agree that the ‘outside disruptions’ are the bigger ones (short term – longer term it is demographics). Low oil prices will hurt Russia, but as the $US is going high vs the Euro, the low $ price is partly offset from a Russian point of view. IFF they ‘cut a deal’ with China (as they are doing on banking and internet ) the manufactures issue fades (until China changes the deal).

    China is also a hungry market for fuels. Russia can very easily ship gas to China instead of the Europe. LNG ports in Crimea would also be a nice touch… Then again, it is a short process over a zeolite catalyst to turn it into gasoline (Mobil Oil did it in New Zealand for a while), so Russia could just go into the Petrochemical and Gasoline business, rather like Saudi Arabia is doing. Russia is not a captive of the EU. The EU is just a convenient customer du jour.

    Per “States Rights” and turning tides: I would love to believe you are correct. I’ve not seen it. There is a constant flow of power and control to D.C. and I’m still waiting to see a significant Agency disbanded and their “work” ended, or the D.C. budget shrink. An occasional issue gets a positive vote, but the control and power continues to flow to the center.

    But I’m still hopeful…

    @StephanTheDenier:

    “Always” is a very long time… From the wiki:

    Crimea—or the Tauric Peninsula, as it was formerly known—has historically been at the boundary between the classical world and the Pontic-Caspian steppe. Its southern fringe was colonised by the ancient Greeks, the ancient Persians, the ancient Romans, the Byzantine Empire, the Genoese and the Ottoman Empire, while at the same time its interior was occupied by a changing cast of invading steppe nomads, such as the Cimmerians, Scythians, Sarmatians, Goths, Alans, Bulgars, Huns, Khazars, Kipchaks, and the Golden Horde. Crimea and adjacent territories were united in the Crimean Khanate during the 15th to 18th century before falling to the Russian Empire and being organised as its Taurida Oblast in 1783.

    After the Russian Revolution of 1917, Crimea became a republic within the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic in the USSR.

    So I take it you measure “forever” as starting after 1783…

    “In ancient times, it was the home of Cimmerians and Scythians, as well as the site of Greek colonies. The most important city was Chersonesos at the edge of today’s Sevastopol.

    Later occupiers included the Romans, Goths, Huns, Bulgars, Khazars, the state of Kievan Rus’, the Byzantine Empire, the Kipchaks, and the Golden Horde. In the 13th century CE, portions were controlled by the Republic of Venice and by the Republic of Genoa.”

    It has been a political / military football for a long long time.

    But to your point: Yes, Stalin and friends moved a load of Ethnic Russians into all sorts of (former) countries. Now claiming that they are Russian due to that is a bit cheeky (even if it is kind of true). Not to mention moving Poland and Germany a bit further west and taking some land there, too… Such is the way of geopolitics and demographics.

    So now there are only two reasonable solutions: Send those Russian transplants back to Russia, or have them become Ukrainians. There is also the illegal, but common (and some would say reasonable) solution of ripping off the ethnic parts and giving them to another country with shared ethnicity. That has not usually worked well (see W.W.II) and would mean things like giving chunks of New York to Israel (one of largest Jewish populations is in NYC…), handing over large parts of Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and California to Mexico, and splitting the EU countries up into a few dozen more ( France into at least 3, with Breton and Catalan, and Spain into at least 4, and …)

    So yes, we can start a boat load of Ethnic Purification of countries; but I doubt that will be a good idea nor end well. Oh, and do realize that would mean Russia giving up large swaths of Siberia and other parts of the Federation. All those various language groups from Turks to Altaic to … https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Languages_of_Russia

    There are 35 different languages which are considered official languages in various regions of Russia, along with Russian. There are over 100 minority languages spoken in Russia today.

    So use care in making that argument in support of Russia absorbing ‘ethnic Russians’ as it has consequences…

    @Larry Ledwick:

    That’s the New Great Game… The original Great Game was played by the British Empire vs Russia. The new one has new players in the mix. The question being which of them has the best and most devious political power players. Who will be the pawns and who the New Emperors… Iran clearly wants a New Persian Empire (with a Shiite theme) while The Turks like the sound of Ottoman Turkish Empire (though maybe dropping ‘Ottoman’…); mix in Russia wanting to stir their pots for Russian gain, and most all of them would love to see The House of Saud taken down.

    If I had to pick One Spot where things are most likely to blow up first, I’d pick there (from Turkey to Egypt with Israel in the middle, over to Saudi and on to Iran). Second pick being Pakistan / India, followed by “China by Proxy” via N. Korea. (All in the context of a constantly simmering Russian slow march back to Prague…)

    Yes, it will be an interesting decade or two. We will get to see what happens when the Pax Americana ends in a power vacuum.

    @Bruce:

    Ah, “Demographics is Destiny”! One of my favorite political economy topics…

    Yes, all “western democracies” have that problem, as does Russia, Japan, China, and many others. Islam does not. Our “leaders” want us to import Islamic ‘excess’ population as a fix to bankrupt social programs that were based on a growing population (all while ranting at us to stop growing…) It is simply insane.

    One “wild card” is that there is a decent demographic argument that Russia becomes majority Muslim inside a few decades… at that point the “Eastern Empire” and the “New Caliphate” might become one and the same…

    But I’m of the opinion (and it is only an opinion) that the Ethnic Russian leadership is not going to let that happen. It might well end up in a Russian Civil War, or a rampant Nationalism that ends badly; or not. It is another hard to size / predict wildcard.

    It is most likely (based on demographic pressures) that the Muslim World takes over both Europe and Russia. For that to not happen requires a tossing out of P.C. behaviours, an acceptance of rampant Nationalism, and a new round of religious wars. I don’t see any of those things happening given the present tendency of global elites to push massively for exactly those things (P.C. required by law, multiculturalism, and religion as ‘off the table’). Assuming they don’t change their mind until it’s too late, you get the religious war anyway, but with many more Muslims and the loss of “Western Democracy” across Eurasia.

    So in many ways my ‘view’ in the article is based on a timing argument inside that context. That Russia expands west prior to their fall to Islam, but that the EU (especially in the south) falls to the demographics of Muslim birth rates during that time. (One can wonder if, after that scenario should it play out, the New Eastern Empire and the Massive Muslim Caliphate go at it…)

    At any rate, demographics are pretty much set for 30 years or so. It can change in longer times than that. Oh, and the liberal application of nuclear weapons or rocks from space can change it all very fast.

    FWIW, the thing that most strongly changes demographic trends is the education level of women. Give women a college education and birth rates plunge below replacement. (Just a fact. Don’t toss rocks at me over it. I don’t like it either.)

    This has two very unfortunate inevitable consequences.

    Over shorter time periods, countries that are “liberal” and equal opportunity will suffer failure to replace levels of fecundity. They will fade away over time. Countries (and ideologies) that are more unequal, more prone to oppressing women, will have larger birth rates and come to dominate. As Islam often forbids education of girls and women, and has high birth rates, they win the demographics ware (that has been named “the war of the womb”).

    Over longer time periods, it will select for a dumber, stupider global population (as smart women exit the gene pool). And over even longer time periods, this might result in sexual dimorphism with women being more stupid than men (as smart men continue to have kids but smart women do not).

    It takes 30 generations to get a maximal response to any strong genetic pressure, and the human generation time is about 30 years on average, so in as short as 30 x 30 or 900 years there can be very significant genetic shifts in human population genetics. Well inside the time scales of human Empires.

    The Demographic argument says that Islam wins, that “liberal” western democracy loses, and that women end up more subjugated and less free in the end case. (Again: No, I don’t like this, nor want it. I’m just ‘doing the math’ based on the known facts). Unfortunately, I’m not sure I know of any way to beat “Demographics is Destiny.”

    This is Economics called “The Dismal Science” for a reason…

  23. E.M.Smith says:

    @Omanuel:

    The USA is moving back to space, but on commercial systems. It is unclear if we will again dominate, though, as Japan, China, and India are all in the game too.

    @Dave & StephanTheDenier:

    The question comes down to the ability of an expanding Russia to start growth and economic recovery again. Can they reverse the decline of production. Hard to say (another ‘hinge point’) as often war leads to economic bursts of activity.

    Russia does miss those old Baltic states, not least of which being that they were very productive and made much of the high tech stuff of the FSU / USSR. Some also have significant Russian populations (that were moved there during USSR days…)

    In a ‘race to collapse’, I’d expect Russia to be more able to ‘hunker down and endure’ than the EU. The EU is more prone to brittle failure. It is as that point that even a weak Russia could move in up north while the south does battle over “convert or die”. (All of it a decade or three out).

    On Greece:

    Yes, it could change things a lot… but… the country is just a dinky little thing. 10 Million population. That’s about 1/3 of California… Economy about $300 Billion. Again, a rounding error on the US debt, and something that gets lost in the Fed Budget. About the same as Minnesota at the 17th ranked state… News would be a big deal, but actual impact on the global economy nearly nil.

    I’m far more worried about the demise of California that is in far more debt, and about the same inability to ever repay it.

  24. Graeme No.3 says:

    E.M.S.

    In 1905 when Britain was at its height as a global power and China was at a very low ebb (after the Boxer Rebellion and subsequent foreign invasion) the 2 countries concluded a peace treaty, defining the border between British India and Tibet (which the British recognised as belonging to China). China’s claim to Tibet was centuries old and recognised by Tibet. The Dalai Lama had to be approved by China before installation.
    China had an internationally recognised claim to Tibet, only the Tibetans weren’t consulted.

    It was to maintain that 1905 border that the Chinese took on the Indian army.

  25. E.M.Smith says:

    @Graeme No. 3:

    Britain has a long history of giving away things, or taking things, that were not theirs; often for the purpose of generations long strife. (Not judgmental, just a tactic they use.) Tibet started as independent, and ended as independent, yet it is ‘the middle’ that you think ought to rule. Despite a UN resolution to the contrary (simply ignored by most…)

    From the wiki –

    Tibet emerged in the 7th century as a unified empire, but it soon divided into a variety of territories. The bulk of western and central Tibet (Ü-Tsang) was often at least nominally unified under a series of Tibetan governments in Lhasa, Shigatse, or nearby locations; these governments were at various times under Mongol and Chinese overlordship. The eastern regions of Kham and Amdo often maintained a more decentralized indigenous political structure, being divided among a number of small principalities and tribal groups, while also often falling more directly under Chinese rule; most of this area was eventually incorporated into the Chinese provinces of Sichuan and Qinghai. The current borders of Tibet were generally established in the 18th century.[1]

    Following the collapse of the Qing dynasty in 1912, Qing soldiers were disarmed and escorted out of Tibet Area (Ü-Tsang). The region subsequently declared its independence in 1913, without recognition by the following Chinese Republican government.[2] Later Lhasa took control of the western part of Xikang Province, China. The region maintained its autonomy until 1951 when, following the Invasion of Tibet, Tibet became unified into the People’s Republic of China, and the previous Tibetan government was abolished in 1959 after a failed uprising.[3] Today, the People’s Republic of China governs western and central Tibet as the Tibet Autonomous Region; while the eastern areas are now mostly ethnic autonomous prefectures within Sichuan, Qinghai and other neighbouring provinces. There are tensions regarding Tibet’s political status[4] and dissident groups which are active in exile.[5] It is also said that Tibetan activists in Tibet have been arrested or tortured.[6]

    So by your reasoning, it would be just fine for the UK or France or Spain or Mexico to come claim parts of the USA as they were, once, under that rule…

  26. Larry Ledwick says:

    In general I agree with your analysis as stated:

    The Demographic argument says that Islam wins, that “liberal” western democracy loses, and that women end up more subjugated and less free in the end case. (Again: No, I don’t like this, nor want it. I’m just ‘doing the math’ based on the known facts). Unfortunately, I’m not sure I know of any way to beat “Demographics is Destiny.”

    There is one way around it I see, although the analogy will be painful for some. In Germany as part of the increased Nationalism that Hitler fanned as he gained power, he also saw the power of demographics and made a conscious effort to educate the young especially the young girls that giving birth was a duty “for the father land”. In some of his youth camps they actively encouraged the boys and girls to bath in the nude to break down barriers of modesty and that combined with tolerance for boy/girl mixing between the youth camps and the constant drum beat to have babies for the father land in the late 1930’s allowed him to turn a generation of young girls into baby machines to staff his armies of conquest. In one documentary the read a young girl letter home to her mother that said “of the 16 girls or so that went to camp with her by the time they were coming home 12-14 were pregnant and oh by the way Mom I am one of the pregnant girls!” The camp counselors that ran those youth camps intentionally setup an environment that encouraged that outcome.

    Nationalization is the one mechanism I can see that would counter the effects of education on women and it current tendency in the advanced economy to lower their birth rate to facilitate success in their business career. The company I work for just recently shut down two bathrooms and intends to convert them to “nursing stations” and is very supportive of new mothers working from home. As those efforts become mainstream we could see a cultural shift where children in the work place (ie work sponsored child care) and general shifts in public attitudes toward nursing in public and all the related child bearing issues, might make it again socially desirable for well educated young women to do both work and child bearing and not suffer the work place consequences that currently tend to cause them to choose a child free life. Interestingly these forces will be strongest in the white color female work force (much easier for a board chairwoman to deal with a child in the work place than a woman working as a team lead in a warehouse).

    I am detecting a slow shift in the desirability of women having children vs working as women in sufficient numbers get into higher responsibility positions and learn why men don’t live as long due to the frustration and pressures that that sort of occupational duties puts on a person.

    Dodging political in fighting bullets and working at high levels of management is not suited to the genetic skill sets of most humans. It tends to burn people up over time. Women are just now discovering that high pressure high status jobs are more than a big paycheck, but come with an occupational price to be paid in stress, ulcers, jet lag and all that.

    The other option would be some female figure of high status successfully having children and being very successful in the work place and making it the In thing to do was to both be successful in the business world and as a mother, but the social shifts necessary for that to happen will like the 1960’s revolution in sexual behavior, drugs and such will take a couple decades to make a significant shift in the business world.

    When everyone thinks it is normal for a company to have on site day care and be comfortable with women (and men) taking time during the business day for their children as a model of a good worker/person, only then will there be a positive social pressure for well educated women to also respond to their biological function as mothers and their desire to be successful in a business career.

    That sort of culture long existed on the farm where the mother was expected to care for the family/children and performing necessary tasks on the farm, doing that successfully was seen as a high status marker for her station in life. It was also a culture where the woman was often highly successful in some of the basic labor tasks of the farm and served a valuable place in the business of running a farm or ranch, it just never transferred well to an assembly line economy where women were only seen as suitable for stenographers and light assembly line or sewing duties.

  27. M Simon says:

    Any given style of medicine has little impact on empires and politics. $500 Billion is a rounding error on our national debt…

    Yes. For one year. But the benefits keep giving year after year. And they compound because some of that money goes into trying new things.

    $500 bn for ten years comes to $5 trillion. Now you are talking about real money. In 100 years it is $50 trillion. The savings don’t stop. Although after a while they become unnoticed. Expected.

  28. philjourdan says:

    @E.M.Smith – I agree with what you said about the BRICS Internet. Yet that was not my point. Or points. #1 is that the internet “works” by being distributed in responsibility. There area almost more than one way to get to a site (route wise). And different groups control each route. They are putting all their eggs into one basket. That does not mean, by definition, that it will fail, but it is the anathema to any network jockey – a single point of failure. And the BRICS have yet to show they are capable of long term maintenance and care. That was point #1

    Point #2 – your inter versus extra net. Some people fool themselves into thinking they are safe behind their firewalls and with their private IPs. And as long as they are uninteresting, they will probably remain so. But there is nothing that is completely safe if it is attached to the Internet. I do not care if you are Joe the Plumber or Communist China. They are indeed putting road blocks in the way, but as any security professional will tell you, most of the hacks do not come from the outside, but the inside. Mata Hari is not a deprecated occupation. So if they think they are securing anything with the antics, they are deluding themselves. Anyone, including the NSA, is going to keep getting the same information. The difference will be the vehicle.

    But one thing good will come out of their Internet. It will keep western Intelligence Agencies on their toes and not allow them to grow complacent (at least in the short term). Indeed, while this is just a “feeling” on my part, the existence of their Internet will mean less security because it will give them a false sense of security.

  29. M Simon says:

    The question comes down to the ability of an expanding Russia to start growth and economic recovery again. Can they reverse the decline of production.

    No. In America production (at least for prototypes and custom designs) is moving to 3D printers and desktop and table top CNC machines. We are with that technology where computers were in about 1978. We will hit the IBM PC stage in about 5 years.

    Russia doesn’t even have a glimmer. I would expect China to be in it – if their infrastructure (electricity production) wasn’t so horrible.

    There is a revolution in production afoot and most people have zero clue.

  30. philjourdan says:

    I’d happily walk away from both for an International Econ post at a ‘think tank’; but not having contacts nor the obligatory Ph.D. in it, that’s not going to happen.

    We share a similar background and a similar path. I actually had a job where my economics came into play. And that is how I got into computers as I needed to write my own programs. Alas when that job ended (the company went belly up), I had to find another, and instead of pushing my economic skills, pushed the computer ones as that seemed a faster track to get another job (and it paid off).

  31. M Simon says:

    And over even longer time periods, this might result in sexual dimorphism with women being more stupid than men (as smart men continue to have kids but smart women do not).

    The distributions for men and women are different. The distribution for women is narrow. That for men wide. Thus the tails – more very smart men. And more very stupid men.

    The first mate (a very bright woman) and I decided on 3 kids. We actually had 4. The genetics bred true. #2 son graduated with honors form UChicago. But we may have been outliers. Or just ahead of our time.

  32. philjourdan says:

    @Larry Ledwick – All well and good. But your story reminds me of “The Final Question”. The story is a cute one, but it is the path to the end of the story that is relevant. As the universe died of entropy, some tried to forestall the end by creating new stars and galaxies. But in the end, entropy won out (until the final paragraph). That is what these efforts are. It will forestall the end of the nationality, but I do not see it being a real solution.

  33. nemesis says:

    Came upon this recently which was an interesting read;
    http://www.newworldeconomics.com/archives/2014/092814_files/TheFateofEmpiresbySirJohnGlubb.pdf
    To learn about the future it helps to look at the past.

  34. Paul, Somerset says:

    The only reason why China, after years of stalling, finally signed a gas deal with Russia was because Putin had manoeuvered himself into a position of such desperation that he had to sign anything. It’s a deal that, if implemented, would consign Russia to a future as a slave to the whims of China.

    But it’s all academic anyway, as the deal required Russia to pay for the pipeline, which is now out of the question. For similar reasons the Turkish pipeline “deal” is no more than a propaganda stunt. Going forward Russia will have enough trouble finding the money and importing the expertise to maintain and develop even its existing output and distribution.

  35. Larry Ledwick says:

    @nemesis 23 January 2015 at 10:12 pm

    That link you posted is very similar to the Kondratieff cycle theory.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kondratiev_wave

    Very interesting pattern!

  36. Graeme No.3 says:

    @ E.M.S.
    I stand corrected, the treaty was in 1906. The point I was trying to make is that China had a long standing claim of sovereignty over Tibet, which was accepted by the UK Government. The tibetans may have declared independence and removed the chinese military, but the then Chinese government did not accept that Tibet was independent, nor did the communists. As far as I know there was no international acceptance either, and the Chinese reconquest in 1951 didn’t attract much support for Tibet either, as you note. That doesn’t mean that I think that Tibet shouldn’t be independent or that the chinese were completely in the right, but these matters are rarely simple.

    As for the USA, I point out that the French (and acquired spanish) claims were sold to the government of the USA by Napoleon, just as the Russians gave up all claims to California and Alaska by their sale. The UK has signed various treaties with USA governments recognising their area of sovereignty, including 2 to settle attempts by the USA to claim areas that didn’t belong to them.
    That leaves only Mexico, but with the current debts of the USA I don’t think they would be that keen on assuming liability.

    P.S. I forgot about the change of Hawaii from British ownership to the USA. Considering the current administration, is that what you meant by the purpose of generating strife long afterwards?.

  37. M Simon says:

    Larry Ledwick says:
    24 January 2015 at 4:25 am

    See my 23 January 2015 at 6:46 pm. We are coming out of a recessionary phase of the Kondratieff cycle. It is already apparent to the not so early adopters. It will be taking off in a big way in about 5 years. It will make a significant economic difference in 10 years. In 20 years everyone will have a 3D printer and table top CNC machine.

  38. bruce says:

    thanks for the response E.M., However bleak, I suppose what is, defines what is best.
    My hope then, given your projections, would be the Chinese century. I don’t see too much instinct for PC from them.

  39. R. de Haan says:

    It’s very difficult to track and evaluate the current flood of events in the financial markets.
    Today Greece and it’s complete opposite Switzerland both have become a red hot liability threatening the financial systems on a Global scale. At the same time we get the news that the Russian stock market is back and the Ruble rising because foreign investors regard the Russian market less risky than Western markets and forget about Japan. We have a 100 trillion bond market bubble for which the banks, the major holders now have to pay Governments to hold them, while at the same time this government debt is used to secure an appox. 550 trillion derivatives market, still the major money making tool for the banksters and now the central banks that have been manipulating our financial markets for a decade are loosing control. They see the pillars of their highly leveraged schemes burning and have been cornered in places with ample options to escape. There is a relentless currency war going on and this combined with geopolitical events popping up from Ukraine to Yemen an a return to a Cod War situation with Russia that is heating up at the EU’s Eastern border leaves us with a financial and nuclear powder keg and many pundits throwing burning fuses right in the middle of it. Insanity rules the system today and with all the good will in the world will not be able to fix this.

    For those of you who believe there will be a “Chinese Century”, I don’t think this is going to happen.
    The Chinese have been cooking the books for a long time now and 50% of their GDP is generated by building seven brand new cities where nobody lives.

    Hell, even their export numbers are bogus and the big money is leaving the country.

    India, that soon will have an even bigger population than China doesn’t meet it’s objectives either as the country is crippled by a totally insane system of red tape and corruption.

    India and China officially are still in a state of war and they can drink each others blood, a similar relationship between China and japan and Japan and South Korea so expect them to spend much of their energy keeping each other in check.

    I sill see a major role for the USA but it will take a relentless clean up of the current establishment and a departure from what I call the green madness.

    Now with snow and frost last week in the Middle East including Saudi Arabia, cold nasty weather in India and Australia where it is now summer and another relentless winter in the USA some in the West have started to wake up to reality and see what an incredible hack they have elected into White House

    As my mother told me that beeing aware of the problem is half the cure I finish here.

    There’s always hope and we certainly need change.

  40. R. de Haan says:

    Just some links to the posting above all ZH:

    Default Risk Greece >70% http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-01-28/greek-credit-risk-spikes-default-probability-tops-70

    SF will collapse: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-01-28/swiss-franc-will-collapse

    Fed Nado comes with conequences: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-01-28/fed-nado-crushes-stocks-and-crude-long-yields-hit-record-low

    Medvedev warns for UNLIMITED REACTION if Russia is thrown out of SWIFT: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-01-27/medvedev-warns-unlimited-reaction-if-russia-cut-swift

    Russian Ruble extends gains, stocks erase all post downgrade losses: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-01-27/russian-ruble-extends-gains-stocks-erase-all-post-downgrade-losses

    Stennis packing some punch, my gamble is Yemen: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-01-26/aircraft-carrier-stennis-has-biggest-ordnance-onload-2010

    Yes, I know it’s all ZH but I simply didn’t have the energy to look for different sources.

  41. R. de Haan says:

    Larry Ledwick says:
    24 January 2015 at 8:59 pm

    A little view of how Russia currently sees the U.S.

    http://observer.com/2014/12/russians-rage-against-america/

    http://20committee.com/2015/01/24/russias-emerging-holy-war/

    Yep we live in Goeblian times on both sides of the fence.

    I don’t worry about the views because they are more diverse than one should suspect.

    I worry about the 10.000 Russian nukes that can be fired by artillery and Americans carrying AK’s in Mariupol, right in the epicenter of another “flag attack” to be blamed on the Russians:
    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-01-25/out-my-face-please-why-are-us-soldiers-mariupol

  42. E.M.Smith says:

    @Larry Ledwick:

    Interesting speculation on possible ‘ways out’. Though I love speculation and never want to dissuade folks from “going there” (as it is where most new things originate…); we do not at present have any real examples to counter the observed data / trend. That is simply that fecundity (tendency to have kids) decreases with education level for women.

    Whole papers and volumes have been written on it. All sorts of things speculated about it. Ideas abound with time competition from careers being one of the most common. Yet in the end “Reality just is. -E.M.Smith” and the reality is that college graduate women have fewer kids.

    (I’ve privately speculated that a corollary would apply to men. First, realize that men are irrelevant to the statistics of reproduction. All that matters is women having, or not having, kids. Sorry guys… So Economics always looks at the fecundity of women. But I’ve wondered if in this one case, one could extend the thesis to include: Educated men who choose smart and educates spouses will also diminish while those who choose uneducated women will tend to dominate the reproduction. To the extent that is true, we might have an explanation for the “Dumb Blond” stereotype along with many others. Smart women ‘acting dumb’ to attract the more successful – in a Darwinian reproductive sense – men. Some subconscious cultural awareness of this economics of demographics. The end result being a patriarchal society. And, perhaps, this might explain the tendency for patriarchy to dominate world societies and for matriarchies to fade out. )

    If only I could hang around for 900 years or so to see if universal education and moving loads of women into the professions really does end up with that genetic selective outcome ;-)

    But, directly to your point:

    The only thing that prevents changing this is the attitude of women. Should college educated women choose to have large families, the whole thing reverses. Since I have little capacity to explain what happens inside women’s heads (amply demonstrated over a lifetime of dating and marriage …) I can offer no guidance as to what might cause that to happen. This leads to an odd paradox. ( Perhaps “Smith’s Paradox of Gender Equality”?) Which is that equal access to education and careers leads to eventual decline of women’s intelligence and choices; while choosing the “mommy path” leads to smarter women dominating society, though indirectly.

    Though, again, the whole thing can be thrown out as soon as women choose to ‘have it all’ and shift fecundity to be higher among the more educated women. It really is all their choice and men really are just spectators to this process.

    @M. Simon:

    You have become enamored of “The Story”. Just remember “There is always a story. -E.M.Smith” and the corollary “Never marry the story. -E.M.Smith”. Also seductive is anything that looks like compound growth and / or hypothetical gains summing in an infinite series. Makes great stories. Never happens in reality.

    I’ll “do a riff” on 3D printing in some future posting. It, too, is in the Great Story Stage. Just think a bit about the fact that McDonald’s makes Billions of burgers; yet the tech needed to make them exists in every home with a pan and burner. There is much much more to economies of scale than the machinery. (Financial Economies Of Scale is one of the biggest, then there is monopsony power in purchasing inputs and there is …) So ask yourself how you will “make steel” or even “make a car” or “make a computer chip” on a 3D printer. Maybe in 50 years, but not on the horizon now. Even composites like fiberglass boats will be an issue for a long time. (Remember that after you make the hull, the real work of ‘fitting out’ starts). There’s a reason it is prototype and small lot small part work that is being done on 3D printers.

    @PhilJourdan:

    Maybe I’m seeing it from too close a perspective. I’m fully expecting that the BRICS will have more than that one Miami landing point for network connectivity. That they would have privacy prioritized traffic on their backbone and ‘other’ go via the usual sieve of connections. Failure would just do the usual router table heal and bypass… BTW, the dominance of Russian Hackers has shown that they have some very good technical skill.

    Per your #2: While I agree that “air gap security” is the best, it is also very ‘doable’ to have a secure intranet and secure internet connections. I know this as I have done it. 7+ years at Apple alone, plus more at places like Schwab and others. Yes, it is very very hard. But it can be done.

    One, simplistic, example: At one company, we used 17.x.x.x numbers internally. Those were at the time (and may still be) owned by HP. Any attempt to use one of the machine IP numbers to get to it was doomed to failure as the packets would route to HP. Attempting to bugger the public routers would cause HP and their ISP to get involved “pronto”. The only way in was via the NAT / Proxy interface and only via an outbound originated connection.

    Now I’m not advocating that as a strategy. In fact, after a couple of years I lead a renumbering project to move us onto a “non-routing” set of IPs ( the 10.x.x.x block IIRC). I’d also be very much unwilling to assert that a very well made NAT / Proxy / Firewall process is ‘enough’ anymore. There was no Java then, and we didn’t have browsers on every desktop opening up all sorts of VMs to the world. But the insecurity of the desktop just shows HOW it could be done now. Don’t use the present crop of “Leaks R Us” desktops.

    So for a well designed “server farm” such as is used for financial / oil transactions, and without letting weak desktops onto that private network, the BRICS can easily isolate their private traffic from all the “USA Owned and Pwned” network.

    Is there a risk? Yes, as long as there is a wire, there is a risk. Is that risk manageable? IMHO as long as you keep MicroSoft / Java off of it, yes. ( I say this as someone who works in computer security, including issues of PII and PCI – Personal Identifying Information and Payment Card Industry standards – among others.) Is it easy to keep it secure? No, not at all, and you will take a load of ‘flack’ from folks wanting you to punch holes in your security and saying “well THOSE folks do it!!”. If you can’t take that heat for several years until “THOSE folks” are in the news for having been hacked, don’t enter this part of the business…

    So I’m much more willing to think that the BRICS net will do exactly what it is designed to do. Keep financial data flows out of US hands and wires. Web browsing will go via other connections and web browsing history will likely be available to the NSA ‘real time’…

    (Though the more interesting question, IMHO, is how the Russian and Chinese hacker teams will view this opportunity to get into each other’s houses… since being State Sponsored they will likely have access to ‘the wire’…)

    @Nemesis:

    Ah, more to read ;-)

    @Paul Somerset:

    Russia is an interesting beast. It slumbers and hibernates for decades. Looks moribund. Then will suddenly wake up and make a massive run into the future with tremendous energy. Only to take a long nap again. All of it punctuated by periodic collapses, wars, and purges. If it ever gets the knack of consistent performance it could be spectacular. But for now, just because you see some hibernation, I’d caution against thinking the bear is dead…

    @Larry Ledwick:

    Kondratiev wave theory is interesting, but being a long cycle theory suffers from the short data problem. It is interesting, but IMHO somewhat speculative. Could just as easily be an accidental consequence of things like the WWII Baby Boom as any natural cycle. That is, it could look like a cycle but really be based on historical accidents such as wars. Or maybe on the 50 – 60 year crop cycles due to solar variation that folks like Jevons looked at.

    @Graeme No.3:

    The British have a long history of moving people around the planet and between nations so as to assure the need for British Rule. ( I say this as a 1/2 Brit myself). The pattern shows up all over the place. Moving folks from India to tropical Pacific Islands (with some of them still having strife today between the original Polynesians and the imports), to moving black Africans to the Americas as slaves (see more strife…) to chopping up peoples in Iraq so there was not Kurdistan and was a good mix of Arab and non-Arab with Shiia and Sunni (see perpetual strife…) and then there was the dumping a load of Scots Protestants into North Ireland (speaking of strife…)

    Now there are 2 possible interpretations of this. Stupidity or Malice. The Crown, not being particularly stupid, is unlikely to have not noticed that this caused local strife and kept folks infighting and disorganized. Especially over several hundred years. They also studied Rome, and knew of things like the Roman Empire mixing Jews into places all over (like Spain) so as to dampen the resistance.

    So I’m just observing this long and well evidenced pattern of a couple of thousand years duration, and the British Crown adoption of / adaptation of it. Hawaii being a minor footnote at best.

    Oh, and per ‘paper signing’: So what about all that paper signed at the UN stating that China needs to leave independent Tibet alone and get out? How’s that working out?…
    http://www.savetibet.org/policy-center/united-nations/un-general-assembly-resolutions/

    Paper is only meaningful in proportion to the size of the guns behind it.

    @Bruce:

    You are most welcome.

    My general approach is to try as best I can to “see past the story”. Just see exactly what is really happening. “Just the facts, mam…” THEN to try extending that via directed speculation based on limited reasonable assumptions (often with variations).

    The hard part is to not get sucked into The Story that others spin. There is often an agenda behind it, and always there are misperceptions and failure to see that a ‘trend’ is really just a part of a long cycle. (Most folks miss inflections and do linear or exponential projections, and that always fails). So I try to get to the base facts, then look for similar patterns in history (that does include limit points, inflections, breakdowns and failures, etc. etc.) and then project. Finally flavoring things with ‘the view from now’. So, for example, add in some Russian Strident Movement and a bit of China Winning Skill…

    I’m still hopeful that the USA can pull back from the brink, but at present the trend is clear to China winning it all, Russia as 2nd place, and the USA playing with itself in the corner. The EU looks like “Most Likely To Fail” while the UK might be able to pull out of the EU before it’s got the Euro-Clap and get back to The Commonwealth where it could shine.

    Oh well, time will tell.

  43. p.g.sharrow says:

    @EMSmith; On the observation, “fecundity (tendency to have kids) decreases with education level for women.”
    I think that the postponement of child bearing has a great deal to do it rather then the actual education.
    As a livestock breeder for many years I have found that postponing breeding young females into later maturity greatly reduces later fertility. Kind of a “use it or lose it” thing. A human female is designed to begin having offspring in her late teens, if she waits until her late 20s her ability to successfully become and carry a pregnancy is greatly reduced. This is not just an age problem of lost opportunity but is also an equipment break down from non-use.
    Females are born with a fixed number of eggs that are shed every month after she reaches breeding age. This stops during pregnancy and early lactation. So postponement of pregnancies wastes a lot of good eggs as the best eggs tend to ripen and be shed first. Later eggs are of poorer quality and result in failures and abnormalities. In spite of the human tendency to think that THEY are special, they are in fact animals like all the others. ;-) pg

  44. E.M.Smith says:

    @P.G.:

    Yes, we are all just the same as every other animal in terms of the mechanism, but there is a distinct “education” effect that is not just years of delay. For example, in the cases of my grandparents, they had more kids after 25 than my kids have had and who are now post 25… They are likely to ‘get started’ at about 30 at best and want no more than 2. Dad was one of 13 and mom was one of 9…

    My Brazilian kids, nearly universally, picked 30 as the ideal age to start a family. They are from the higher-income-going-to-college cohort there.

    You just don’t see that in farm kids with nothing post high school or in dropouts in the inner city.

    Two from my class in country high school were having their first kid at 18… Many of the welfare queens start in at 16 to 18 as well, and I knew one who was on the “kid a year” plan. Each with a different dad. (She was looking to me for one, and I was a bit too responsible to realize it was a ‘freebee’ to me and declined… perhaps another example of too much education getting in the way…)

    There is just a huge set of implications from this.

    So it isn’t just what happens mechanically when you wait, it’s that they start early and keep going vs not starting at all until way late. Then doing just a couple. (Replacement rate is about 2.4 or so, so ‘just two’ is below replacement rate.)

  45. omanuel says:

    1. Robert K. Wilcox, well-known author of a book on WWII’s intriguing ending recently remarked that the fact the UN was formed on 24 Oct 1945 to prevent public knowledge of the energy source that destroyed Hiroshima – the same source of energy as the Sun – is “the greatest secret of the universe”!

    2. Once society accepts the influence on human life of a pulsar only 1AU (one astronomical unit) away from Earth, that scientific fact will almost certainly induce profound changes in mental, emotional and spiritual well-being of society, as noted earlier:

    https://chiefio.wordpress.com/2014/12/26/i-voted-for-obama/#comment-60807

  46. M Simon says:

    The big gains are not totally dependent on the final size of the market. They are more dependent on the rate of growth. You want a few things.

    1. The knee of the curve.
    2. Be lucky
    3. Be good
    4. See something few or no one else does.

    I remember back in ’75 when I started with computers. Everyone who knew something about the business said “those are just toys”. And to a certain extent they were. Worse – to get into them you had to be able to solder and write assembly language programs. The machine on your desk to is an outgrowth of those toys. You have more hard disk, RAM , and CPU that the big iron of ’75.

    3D printing will be following a similar trajectory. But right now for most people they are either industrial eqpt. or toys.

  47. M Simon says:

    I beat the odds. I was 38 and the first mate was 34 when we started. Final result was 4.

  48. Steve C says:

    One “thought on Russia” which you don’t see mentioned much in the West is something I came across several years ago and which quite impressed me – still does. There were several – apparently independent, and in different places at different times – comments from ordinary Russians who had had cause to deal with Vladimir Putin when he was just a lowly pen-pushing clerk.

    Apparently, even when there were other clerks free in the office, people would queue up to deal with Putin. Why? You’d walk over to his desk, and be courteously acknowledged when you handed him your papers. He would take the time actually to read and check your paperwork. If all was in order, he’d rubber-stamp and initial the papers, then hand them back to you: job done. No bribes, no backhanders, no “special underatandings”. He just did his job, honestly and conscientiously, and that was it.

    Okay, he’s a big shot politician now so you never can be quite certain, but he still gives me the strong impression, just from watching, that he is fundamentally a straight dealer, probably the straightest by far on the current international scene. I watch, and I see an honest man. I do not see the creature portrayed in Western media. Just saying.

  49. Larry Ledwick says:

    Sometimes it is to the advantage of a power player like a mafia don to be a man of his words. No games no puzzles, this is the way it is take it or leave it. It adds to his credibility if he is known as a man of his words and also opens the door for an occasional very effective bluff.

    I agree in the sense that when he makes a definitive declaration about what he is going to do, it would b wise for folks in the west to take that assertion seriously. I don’t think he bluffs often, and on the rare occasion he does it is to accomplish a very specific end by using his reputation of action to make the threat more real.

    That is why I think he has absolutely no respect for our current administration and many officials in other countries, they are appeasers who move with the current winds of public opinion rather than hard and fixed principles. That sort of leadership style (the appeasers) can be played like a fiddle by a government who effectively uses disinformation to create a false narrative about what is going on. That sort of manipulation via public perception has been a strong suit of the Russians (Soviets) for a century now. Nobody plays that game as well and as disciplined as they do.

  50. E.M.Smith says:

    @Steve C:

    I have that same sense of Putin. BUT… with a very hard core of iron will driving ambition. Most of the time he’s WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get), but he doesn’t let you see much. Every so often, a hidden ambition becomes visible… (Hello Georgia…)

    I’d not want to play poker with the guy.

    So yes, a straight dealer, in a Mafia kind of way where the word of a Made Man was golden, but he might have given his word that he would take you out back of the cement factory and come back alone…

    @Larry:

    That cartoon showing Putin playing chess while Obama is putting a checker on the board sums it up nicely, IMHO. Putin has disdain for other world “leaders” for the simple reason that they have no fundamental principals and do not know how to play the game well anyway. He sees them as low skill sock puppets of their ‘handlers’ who bought them office and unskilled in how to get the office for themselves. Then, when ‘in play’, they have no clue how to play for their own (or their countries own) best benefit. Making astounding errors (like turning over Iraq to ISIL/ISIS) and being too weak of will to use powers to their own benefit (like Gitmo and trading one lost pawn for 5 knights and rooks…)

    Simply put, he sees western leaders as stupid and inexperienced. Which is likely correct.

  51. Steve C says:

    @EM, Yeah, considerable respect for fundamental integrity, but never forget that, in the case of the cement factory, we already know he’s out there playing hard for Mother Russia, not for us. I suspect that, if I’d been Russian, I’d just say “good man for our country”!

    As for what he’s up against, we’ve got a beauty contest here in May, after the novelty of a fixed term Parliament (introduced to prop up the current parcel of rogues). One look at the shiny, fat, blank faces of the main clones on offer* will convince you that, for the UK at least, you didn’t need the word “likely” at all.
    * Health and Safety warning: A sick-bag or strong stomach is required.

  52. Larry Ledwick says:

    The author Dmitry Orlov wrote a couple interesting books about the Soviet Union and its collapse and a comparison to America and the looming collapse of western economies.

    (Reinventing Collapse: The Soviet Experience and American Prospects)
    (The Five Stages of Collapse: Survivors’ Toolkit)

    In one of those books (I loaned them out to a friend so cannot verify the exact quote) he commented that totalitarian societies like the old Soviet Union tended to select for smart, cunning, careful, and meticulous men who were ruthless when it counted in certain occupations. You did not survive long as a criminal in the old Soviet Union if you were stupid or careless. I suspect the same sort of self selection occurred in the KGB and it is not accident that with his KGB background he is the inscrutable poker/chess playing master he appears to be.

    It would be very wise to keep that in mind when the powers that be access what he is doing/saying.

    By the way I highly recommend those two books mentioned above, lots of interesting insights in there from someone who watched the collapse from the inside. He obviously grew up in a socialist system as you can see from some of his views of the western world but I found them very interesting reading.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zrz5ucQACo8 <—– 30 minute video
    http://cluborlov.com/ <— his blog

  53. Larry Ledwick says:

    By the way he does buy into peak oil and climate change so I don’t agree with that part of his view point but he never the less does have some interesting insights.

  54. Larry Ledwick says:

    Some words of caution, regarding my comments above on Dmitry Orlov , as already noted I found his earlier books interesting and his obvious Soviet biases as sometimes interesting and food for thought, or a bit funny but easily ignored to chew on the first person information he had about the collapse of the Soviet Union.

    I spent some time later in the day today (well actually yesterday now) reading his recent posts on his web site and see a marked change in tenor that turned on the warning bells. His recent blog posts read like what you would expect from a Dezinformatsiya agent run by the FSB. Much harder edge and conspiratorial or propaganda like, so at least with the web site material, have your propaganda/Dezinformatsiya filter installed and active.

    In that sense, his current posts might be useful if read in that light as a view on the current party line propaganda push regarding Ukraine etc. I will have to go back and re-read his books with my propaganda filter turned up to max and with current events in mind to see if the same applies to the books only it was too subtle to take seriously when I first read them.

    As always critical reading and thinking skills need to be applied to sources on the web. They are not always what they first appear to be. The Russian Dezinformatsiya skills are formidable and their application very wide spread in modern communications media and social media and should be actively watched for when something just does not feel right.

    I do not endorse the sort of info he is currently posting on his web site and did not want to accidentally mislead other readers or give the impression that I did.

  55. M Simon says:

    Steve C says:
    31 January 2015 at 8:12 pm

    A certain Chancellor of Germany made a similar calculation about the West “they are all worms” and then the worm turned. There have been moves to beef up NATO in the countries around Russia.

    The question for Putin is – can he stop before causing a forceful counter reaction?

  56. Pingback: What Does Economic / Political Collapse Look Like? | Musings from the Chiefio

  57. Larry Geiger says:

    Chinese speaking English. That’s my story and I’m sticking with it. If the Chinese ever get into a true expansionist mode, then I think everyone else is in trouble. They tend to be in it for the long haul and think in longer terms. Now I’m thinking 500 or 1000 years, not 20. But what do I know?

  58. E.M.Smith says:

    @Larry Ledwick:

    No worries. I like to read contrary and biased belief works as they both inform about that POV and sharpen the thinking skills… There is often some decent info to be gotten, even from pure propaganda (what they say that is true, what they say that is clearly a lie – so points to their sensitivities of excess, what they say that is situation dependent, what they say that is ambiguous, … it all shines light on how they think and provides places for further digging…)

    @Larry Geiger:

    With a Billion people, they have plenty capable of speaking English (in addition to the 9 or so main dialects of Chinese that are often mutually unintelligible… only the written form is shared – a feature of the ‘symbol as meaning’ instead of phonetic system… In theory, one could write English in Chinese characters… ).

    Yes, the long game. But they also have long term expanded. Inspection of a map of China over time is enlightening.

    I expect them to dominate space. It’s a long game kind of process. They have stated an intent to go to the moon and they have a high desire to exploit the minerals in space. ( There’s a load of Platinum group metals in asteroids and a larger load of stainless steel metals … There’s a known suggested process of refining the stainless in space, shaping to a lifting body, then deorbiting, where one lump would be a global year supply… That’s a big inducement.) IIRC, it was about 2020 for lunar landing and then 2030? for walkabout the local area looking at minerals… As that’s well inside the 10 year plan horizon, it is pretty well a done-deal for accomplishment. At least the lunar visit.

    Might be interesting to come up with a “Pigeon English Kanji” set. Just Enough Chinese characters to ‘get by’ in any place that knows them (includes Japan…) but where you are thinking English and they can think whatever they use… 1000 would be a rich set, and you could probably ‘get by’ with 100… (simplified grammar, reduced tenses, avoidance of things like indirect dialog and progressive time placements…) Hmmmm….. Complicated by the Chinese tendency to ‘overlay’ a word with several meanings, so would need a ‘simple meaning’ filter and a review for ‘special cases’ by a native speaker. Also need to concentrate on those words, tenses, and grammar where Chinese and English have common ground and avoid the differences. It could work… and might end up being valuable…

  59. p.g.sharrow says:

    Various hand sign languages work well enough on a few hundred positions. A written language of a few hundred “words” can work. I learned to speed read when I learned to read. I learned most of our written communication are just fluff and not needed to communicate ideas or content. The “fluff” is great for “color” and nuance but not critical to grasping the meat of the communication. pg

  60. p.g.sharrow says:

    ” hand sign work few positions. language few hundred “words” work. I learned speed read. I learned most written fluff, not needed communicate . “fluff” nuance, not critical communication”

    See speed read! Fun no. Communicate yes. pg

  61. M Simon says:

    I just found out Russia takes its payments for oil in dollars cushioning the collapse of the Ruble.

  62. Larry Ledwick says:

    I wonder what the plains Indian sign language symbol count was. It is another example of a simplified symbolic communication that was a “universal language” among the tribes. Replace each sign with the equivalent Chinese character and you would come close. Tactical hand signs used by police and military are similar “condensed” languages using one sign to represent several words or a concept?

  63. Steve C says:

    Another comment on Mr. Putin and his attitude in the Telegraph today: “I’ve looked into Vladimir Putin’s eyes – and he won’t back down”
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/vladimir-putin/11396409/Ive-looked-into-Vladimir-Putins-eyes-and-he-wont-back-down.html
    “Putin is centrally driven by his determination to restore Russia as a power to be taken seriously. He deeply mistrusts the West. But he is not a risk taker.” Pretty close to my opinion.

  64. E.M.Smith says:

    @Steve C:

    Yup. He’s a chess player who is in the game to win. No unnecessary risks, but willing to exploit any weakness and knows how to work for better board position. Quite willing to risk a pawn or two to take your knight… or find your weakness.

  65. omanuel says:

    The ruler of the old USSR and the current rulers of the NWO are one and the same.

    See Steven Goddard’s blog on the merger of church and state:

    https://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/2015/02/07/the-merging-of-church-and-state-continues/

  66. p.g.sharrow says:

    @omanuel; With the collapse of the U.S.S.R. the Communists and their leader moved to San Francisco, from which they direct and fund the world wide “Watermelon”activities, funded with “Eastern European” money. pg

  67. omanuel says:

    @p.g. sharrow

    Is radical Islam religion a response to the rise of Communism in the west?

  68. p.g.sharrow says:

    @omanuel; I doubt it. The Muslim has been at this for 1500 years. They have driven Christians from northern Africa and nearly all the middle east. The Crusades that they complain about were European Christians efforts to turn back the Muslim onslaught on them. Only when the desperate Christians of Europe created a large professional standing army were they able to drive Muslim control from Europe.
    As Mr Smith has pointed out Islam was created to be anti-christian. A North African conquest of the Roman Empire. A part of a war that has been going on for nearly 4 cycles. (2800years) pg

  69. omanuel says:

    @p.g. sharrow

    Reports of radical Islam actions have increased as evidence accumulated of the rise of communism in the west.

    That may be a coincidence, but it is a correlation expected from cause-and-effect. Correlation does not prove causation, as we learned from CO2 and global temperatures.

  70. p.g.sharrow says:

    @omanuel; These fellow travelers each lean on the other to assist them, mean while, keeping a hand on their daggers as they know in a world dominated by the other they will be eradicated. Communism and Islam are spread by 5th columns and force. They rarely spread through popular support. For each of them win one time and then permanent control and no decent.
    Prophecy says that the Head Oligarch is assisting the Muslims behind the scenes for his own purposes. They will soon assassinate him much to their detriment. For some time it will seem that the western world including the Catholic church will ignore the plight of Christians but that will soon change. The World must unite to eradicate the Empire building warlords. The Internet is our tool to unite the worlds people with light and drive out those that follow the Prince of Darkness. pg

  71. omanuel says:

    I do not know the future but I know the current crop of world leaders will be destroyed if they continue to lie about the Creator and Sustainer of all atoms, lives and worlds in the solar system.

    I would personally prefer that they repent and return to their assigned duty of making human life even more happy, joyous and free!

  72. omanuel says:

    Boarders of the old USSR expanded to include the whole globe after the UN was formed on 24 OCT 1945.

    That expansion may be reversed now that the battle-line is known:

    1. Political powers and consensus ‘scientists’ adjusting experimental data on one side.

    2. A benevolent creator and sustainer of every atom, life and world on the other side.

    Side 1 directs society to UN’s Agenda 21: http://habitat.igc.org/agenda21/index.htm

    Side 2 directs society to a much Higher Power: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/10640850/Solar_Energy_For_Review.pdf

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