Monthly Archives: May 2014

Borderlands: The View from Azerbaijan

By George Friedman

I arrive in Azerbaijan as the country celebrates Victory Day, the day successor states of the former Soviet Union celebrate the defeat of Germany in World War II. No one knows how many Soviet citizens died in that war — perhaps 22 million. The number is staggering and represents both the incompetence and magnificence of Russia, which led the Soviets in war. Any understanding of Russia that speaks of one without the other is flawed.

Borderlands: Hungary Maneuvers

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By George Friedman

I am writing this from Budapest, the city in which I was born. I went to the United States so young that all my memories of Hungary were acquired later in life or through my family, whose memories bridged both world wars and the Cold War, all with their attendant horrors. My own deepest memory of Hungary comes from my parents’ living room in the Bronx. My older sister was married in November 1956. There was an uprising against the Soviets at the same time, and many of our family members were still there. After the wedding, we returned home and saw the early newspapers and reports on television. My parents discovered that some of the heaviest fighting between the revolutionaries and Soviets had taken place on the street where my aunts lived. A joyous marriage, followed by another catastrophe — the contrast between America and Hungary. That night, my father asked no one in particular, “Does it ever end?” The answer is no, not here. Which is why I am back in Budapest.

Geopolitical Flashpoints

There are three regions of geopolitical instability in the world, the Middle East, the European / Russian theater and the China / Pacific-Southeast Asia theater. All are metastable but have the potential to erupt into war that may not remain localized since the US maintains interests including defense treaties in all of them. This post will maintain an active list of links to articles and events that we feel illuminate the current stress in these regions.

Our position is that geopolitical is a natural, complex adaptive system (CAS) that exhibits the behavior of such. Look at such systems as plate tectonics and forests whose energy/stress releasing events – earthquakes and forest fires have been shown to obey the power laws of CASs. In the case of geopolitics, war is the energy/stress releasing event. The other property of a CAS is while we can measure the energy buildup, we can never predict when an energy reducing event will occur, especially the “big one”. In geopolitics, that will be WW III.

Borderlands: The View from Azerbaijan

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By George Friedman

I arrive in Azerbaijan as the country celebrates Victory Day, the day successor states of the former Soviet Union celebrate the defeat of Germany in World War II. No one knows how many Soviet citizens died in that war — perhaps 22 million. The number is staggering and represents both the incompetence and magnificence of Russia, which led the Soviets in war. Any understanding of Russia that speaks of one without the other is flawed.

The Other Side of the Ship

We confess to finding ourselves in a contrarian position so often that we are becoming weary. Almost by reflexive action now, when everyone heads to one side of the ship, we run to the other. The justification for this is that we find the deepest, richest, discussion, analysis, and insight on this side whereas the other side is bereft of analysis but rich in crowd mentality. The opportunities are great and easily recognized: just look for issues where the media, popular opinion and political posturing have coalesced into a single secular doctrine.

The popular doctrine of “climate change” or “anthropogenic global warming” we have written extensively on. The new one is the geopolitical issue of the Ukraine situation. We presented background positioning and extensive links to current thinking on the other side of the Russian imperialist aggression meme in the essay: The Ukraine: What a Country’s Boundaries Really Mean.

A sophomoric oped piece in the Ottawa Sun titled Passport to war? with opening comments like the direction in which Russian aggression is heading and … Moscow uses in its expansionist strategy, motivated us to examine so-called Russian aggression and imperial expansion in particular.

Today we were pointed to an excellent article, Ethnic Russians in Ukraine are Centuries-Old, Not Decades-Deep… (ht: Zero Hedge) by Dr. Constantin Gurdgiev writing in the True Economics blog. At the same time, Dr. George Friedman published the piece Borderlands: The New Strategic Landscape, which we have republished by permission. Both help frame our new examination of the situation of the Ukraine.

Borderlands: The New Strategic Landscape

Tuesday, May 6, 2014 – 03:03

By George Friedman

I will be leaving this week to visit a string of countries that are now on the front line between Russia and the European Peninsula: Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Serbia and Azerbaijan. A tour like that allows you to look at the details of history. But it is impossible to understand those details out of context. The more I think about recent events, the more I realize that what has happened in Ukraine can only be understood by considering European geopolitics since 1914 — a hundred years ago and the beginning of World War I.

In The Guns of August, Barbara Tuchman wrote a superb and accurate story about how World War I began. For her it was a confluence of perception, misperception, personality and decisions. It was about the leaders, and implicit in her story was the idea that World War I was the result of miscalculation and misunderstanding. I suppose that if you focus on the details, then the war might seem unfortunate and avoidable. I take a different view: It was inevitable from the moment Germany united in 1871. When it happened and exactly how it happened was perhaps up to decision-makers. That it would happen was a geopolitical necessity. And understanding that geopolitical necessity gives us a framework for understanding what is happening in Ukraine, and what is likely to happen next.

Why East Asia Alienates Intellectuals

April 30, 2014

By Robert D. Kaplan

East Asia is arguably the most important part of the world. It is the geographic organizing principle of the global economy. It has an array of strong, consequential nations and treaty allies of the United States. But outside of this or that article or essay about this or that Chinese dissident or the hideous depredations of the North Korean regime, intellectuals and humanists of all stripes tend to write less about East Asia than about other regions. The reasons are several. But in general, we can say that East Asia has comparatively little to offer them.

DAVID ALONE: LESSONS FOR CHRISTIAN ZIONISTS FROM THE PSALMS OF DAVID

We received this essay from Paul Merkley, reprinted by permission, and co-published by Think-Israel. See the links at the end for direct access to the rest of Paul’s work.

PART 1: Discovering the voice of King David in the Psalms

When I was young but already taking myself seriously (some said, too seriously) as a Christian and a student of Bible it rarely occurred to me to read the Psalms. I associated Psalms either with daily devotional booklets (which seemed to provide the whole biblical repertoire of elderly souls) or with the Lessons of the Day that are assigned by an ancient lectionary for reading in church each Sunday. The sounds that the Psalms made were majestic, and no doubt the message was edifying; but even after memorizing one or more of them under instruction from my Sunday School teacher, I did not see their relevance to my life.

But then, somewhere in late middle age (that is, long ago), I made a discovery. Behind every word of every Psalm there is an individual voice suffering some crisis or confusion in his own life or overwhe lmed by crisis in the public life and calling out for understanding and help to God.

Progression of Islamic Expansionism

We reprint the following list that we found on the Think-Israel website. Since references to the information it captures has come up in several conversations, we’re glad to capture it here.

Progression of Islamic Expansionism
Extracted from Dr. Peter Hammond’s book, Slavery, Terrorism and Islam: The Historical Roots and Contemporary Threat.

Islamization begins when there are sufficient Muslims in a country to agitate for their religious privileges. When politically correct, tolerant, and culturally diverse societies agree to Muslim demands for their religious privileges, some of the other components tend to creep in as well. Here’s how it works:

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