“The Long Peace,” or Harbinger of Doom?

There has not been one war between the major powers in over 60 years. Historians say this is unprecedented and call it the “the Long Peace.” It seems to suggest that we have entered a new era of declining war and more peace. If your view of looking into the future is through a rear-view mirror, then this historical analysis is great. But what about the rest of us?

Please watch this video titled, “The Mathematics of War”:

There is a mathematical process underlying conflicts and war. Attacks and wars precisely follow a power-law distribtion process. So what?

Well, power-law processes work through a feedback loop mechanism and exhibit self-organizing criticality. Periods of peace represent the time that tension can build. Longer periods of peace mean more tension can build. Eventually, the tension builds to the point where the system undergoes a phase change – collapse (war). What that means is that if one suppresses conflict and war, then eventually you will get one that is orders of magnitude (powers of 10) larger. So a period of unprecedented peace MUST be followed by a period of unprecedented war.

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The Human Security Report, an annual study compiled by researchers at Simon Fraser University in Canada, spells out the changes since the end of World War II. In the 1950s, there was an average of just over six international wars being fought every year. In the new millennium, there has been an average of less than one. Even more remarkable, there has not been a single war between the major powers in more than 60 years. This is unprecedented. Historians call it “the Long Peace”.

Not only are there fewer international wars, they have become less deadly. The average war of the 1950s caused 20,000 battle deaths a year. In the past decade it’s fewer than 3000 per war.

But what of civil wars? The trend was ugly from the 1960s to the 1990s, when they trebled. A great many were proxy struggles by the superpowers. As soon as the Soviet Union gave up the fight, the Cold War ended and so did many civil wars. Their number halved from 1992 to 2003, when it reached 29. Last year there were 30 being waged.

Wars On The Wane | Syria | Iraq | Afghanistan

China infuriated by US-Philippines defense plans — RT

The US decision to station forces in the Philippines could have dangerous repercussions. Beijing may enact economic sanctions after Manila invited in US troops in response to an escalating territorial dispute over the South China Sea.

­Dr. Pak-Nung Wong of the City University of Hong Kong told RT that the Philippines is merely cashing in on America’s move.

“At the international level, the Philippines knows that the US has definitely returned to Asia – refocusing its military and security deployment in the Middle East and Asia-Pacific, targeting China and Iran as the primary security concern,” he said.

China infuriated by US-Philippines defense plans — RT

The world’s 10 most dangerous countries | David Rothkopf

Yesterday, I spent a little time ruminating as to whether Pakistan was really the most dangerous country in the world. And I promised to consider today which countries were, in fact, should worry us the most.

To begin with, let’s consider criteria and that means we need to ask “dangerous to whom?” There are plenty of local actors who are the nearest, greatest threats to the neighbors. So, let’s limit ourselves to actors who can cause the greatest disruption through their actions to the most people over the next decade or so.

Here are my top 10:

10.  Venezuela

The world’s 10 most dangerous countries | David Rothkopf

On a Knife’s Edge | Foreign Policy

The global economy is balanced precariously between total collapse and salvation. Here are four tipping points toward disaster and four things that could get it back on track.

The year 2012 is Europe’s moment of truth. If their dithering continues, European politicians will soon lose control of the continent’s economic and financial future. After all the excitement of 2011, it is also a make-or-break year for some Middle Eastern countries in the midst of tricky political transitions. Even the United States is being shaken out of its social slumber as concerns mount about income inequality and, more generally, the fairness of the “system.”

All this speaks to an increasingly bimodal outlook for the world economy in the years ahead. At one end, timely and proactive policy measures can help with the healing and put the globe back on the path toward higher growth, job creation, and better social justice. At the other, political dysfunction and financial deleveraging could lead to economic fragmentation, higher unemployment, trade wars, and social unrest.

In an attempt to shed light on the key issues in play, what follows is an attempt to identify four factors that could wreck the global economy in the next few years, and four factors that could propel it to greater stability and prosperity. Let’s hope our leaders choose wisely.

On a Knife’s Edge – By Mohamed El-Erian | Foreign Policy

Russia, and the Putin Rules: A Pessimistic Assessment – Forbes

Realize that Putin is the CEO of Kremlin, Inc., a state-capitalist network of state companies, political directorships, and offshore companies, which runs the “national champions” of industry, finance, commerce, media, and even state religion. As CEO of Kremlin, Inc., Putin’s remit is to enrich himself and fellow board members, promote state interests as defined by Kremlin, Inc., and insure political survival by all means no matter how unsavory. If the CEO falls, he threatens to pull down Kremlin Inc. with him. The powers that be cannot allow political competition. Only Kremlin Inc. can replace Putin, but with a clone. Regime opponents, basking in the afterglow of their huge demonstrations, must grasp this reality.

Putin’s first decade of rule traded economic stability (compared to the Yeltsin years) for the people ignoring his corruption, lawlessness, repression and murder of journalists and defectors, and decimation of opposition forces. Putin staked his legitimacy on the high ratings cranked out by “neutral” survey organizations. I suspect they, and the State Statistics Office, will become much less “independent” during his third term.

Russia, and the Putin Rules: A Pessimistic Assessment – Forbes

State capitalism is defined by the pretense of private ownership with heavy state control over the use and disposal of property. This is equivalent to fascism which is not to be confused with Naziism.

Definition of State Capitalism or Fascism as Given by the Ayn Rand Lexicon

The difference between [socialism and fascism] is superficial and purely formal, but it is significant psychologically: it brings the authoritarian nature of a planned economy crudely into the open.

The main characteristic of socialism (and of communism) is public ownership of the means of production, and, therefore, the abolition of private property. The right to property is the right of use and disposal. Under fascism, men retain the semblance or pretense of private property, but the government holds total power over its use and disposal.

The dictionary definition of fascism is: “a governmental system with strong centralized power, permitting no opposition or criticism, controlling all affairs of the nation (industrial, commercial, etc.), emphasizing an aggressive nationalism . . .” [The American College Dictionary, New York: Random House, 1957.]

Under fascism, citizens retain the responsibilities of owning property, without freedom to act and without any of the advantages of ownership. Under socialism, government officials acquire all the advantages of ownership, without any of the responsibilities, since they do not hold title to the property, but merely the right to use it—at least until the next purge. In either case, the government officials hold the economic, political and legal power of life or death over the citizens.

Fascism/Nazism — Ayn Rand Lexicon

Resistant Bacteria: Antibiotics Prove Powerless as Super-Germs Spread – SPIEGEL

The pathogens thrive in warm, moist environments. They feel comfortable in people’s armpits, in the genital area and in the nasal mucous membranes. Their hunting grounds are in the locker rooms of schools and universities, as well as in the communal showers of prisons and health clubs.

The bacteria are transmitted via the skin, through towels, clothing or direct body contact. All it takes is a small abrasion to provide them with access to a victim’s bloodstream. Festering pustules develop at the infection site, at which point the pathogens are also capable of corroding the lungs. If doctors wait too long, patients can die very quickly.

This is precisely what happened to Ashton Bonds, a 17-year-old student at Staunton River High School in Bedford County, in the US state of Virginia. Ashton spent a week fighting for his life — and lost. This is probably what also happened to Omar Rivera, a 12-year-old in New York, who doctors sent home because they thought he was exhibiting allergy symptoms. He died that same night.

The same thing almost happened at a high school in the town of Belen, New Mexico….

Resistant Bacteria: Antibiotics Prove Powerless as Super-Germs Spread – SPIEGEL ONLINE – News – International

Strategic Weapons: Bulava Enters Hasty Production

Russian has ordered mass production of the new Bulava SLBM (Sea Launched Ballistic Missile). The exact number of missiles was not disclosed, but the order covered deliveries for the next eight years. The Bulava is only used in the new Borei SSBN (nuclear submarine carrying SLBMs). Each Borei carries 16 Bulavas, and you need some spares for testing, maintenance and such. Reloads are not an issue. So there will have to be about 18 Bulavas per Borei. There are currently two Boreis built and waiting for their Bulava missiles. Six more Boreis are to be built, indicating the need for over a hundred Bulavas before the end of the decade.

The Bulava R-30 3M30 (SS-NX-30) successfully completed its sea trials on December 23rd when a Borei class submarine fired two of them. The submerged sub was in the White Sea. The two missiles landed 6,000 kilometers to the east, in the North Pacific off Kamchatka Island. This makes 11 successful Bulava test firings out of 18 attempts. These last two missiles make five in a row that were successfully fired. As a result of this, the Bulava has been accepted into service.

Strategic Weapons: Bulava Enters Hasty Production

The Austerity Debacle. – NYTimes.com

Last week the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, a British think tank, released a startling chart comparing the current slump with past recessions and recoveries. It turns out that by one important measure — changes in real G.D.P. since the recession began — Britain is doing worse this time than it did during the Great Depression. Four years into the Depression, British G.D.P. had regained its previous peak; four years after the Great Recession began, Britain is nowhere close to regaining its lost ground.

Nor is Britain unique. Italy is also doing worse than it did in the 1930s — and with Spain clearly headed for a double-dip recession, that makes three of Europe’s big five economies members of the worse-than club. Yes, there are some caveats and complications. But this nonetheless represents a stunning failure of policy.

And it’s a failure, in particular, of the austerity doctrine that has dominated elite policy discussion both in Europe and, to a large extent, in the United States for the past two years.

The Austerity Debacle. – NYTimes.com

Russian ex-paras’ rock video labels Putin a ‘tyrant’

A rock band made up of Russian former paratroopers has scored a surprise hit with a song that labels Vladimir Putin a “tyrant“, registering half a million hits on YouTube.

Beefy, tattooed, wearing berets and military decorations on their chests, two singers and three back-up musicians let rip at Putin, the prime minister who is seeking to return to the presidency in March 4 elections.

“You’ve destroyed the military, the army is broken and you’ve spat on the soldiers and sent the officers packing,” they sing.

“We’re asking you nicely: Go, tyrant!”

AFP: Russian ex-paras’ rock video labels Putin a ‘tyrant’

The Anti-Putin Momentum Between Davos, Courchevel and Bolotnaya Square | The Jamestown Foundation

There has been much more talk about Greece than about Russia at the World Economic Forum last week, which shows that the Davos crowd typically tries to discern the future challenges by looking backwards. The Greek financial fiasco should have been debated two years ago, while it is the Russian repercussions that are looming large for the near future. A planeload of ministers and directors of state-owned companies has duly arrived in Switzerland, and their collective message is that only Vladimir Putin’s confident win at the presidential elections in just one month could secure gradual implementation of necessary political and economic reforms (Kommersant, January 28; Newsru.com, RBC Daily, January 27). A dissenting voice was Aleksei Kudrin, former finance minister turned free agent, who calmly pointed out that the outrageous defense expenditures and unsustainable social programs were not a budget problem but a product of an ineffective and outdated political system (Vedomosti, January 27, New Times, January 23).

Another sign of deepening troubles in Russia is the very quiet January at the French ski resort Courchevel, which used to be a true vanity fair where Moscow high society celebrated their good fortune (Gazeta.ru, January 24). It was flamboyant billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov who introduced this seasonal extravaganza, but now he is busy on the campaign trail presenting himself as a credible alternative to Putin (Vedomosti, November 27). His ideas about sharply reducing state control over economic life and curbing bureaucratic predation would have won approval at Davos, but in the eyes of too many Russians he remains a symbol of shameless self-enrichment by grabbing privatized assets on the cheap and selling them way above their value. Prokhorov has also made a strong pledge to set free Mikhail Khodorkovsky and other political prisoners, and this direct hit on Putin’s personal vendetta resonates so strongly among the electorate that President Dmitri Medvedev finds it necessary to explain his reluctance to grant him a pardon (Gazeta.ru, January 25).

Khodorkovsky has argued for many years that the crucial issue is the discontent with the yawning social inequality that turns into anger when nouveaux riches flaunt their luxurious yachts and frolic in Alpine resorts, and this year Davos has awakened to this problem (Rossiiskaya Gazeta, January 27). The developing political crisis in Russia is driven by the resentment against social injustice, but it involves only the urban middle classes demanding political representation, while the masses of have-nots remain passive. Putin seeks to exploit this disconnect by portraying the opposition as a Moscow ‘thing’ and playing on the pronounced resentment in many regional and provincial cities against the arrogant capital that concentrates too much power and money. That might bring him some extra votes and support the wobbling support rating but his conflict with Moscow is set to escalate (Novaya Gazeta, January 28).

The Jamestown Foundation: The Anti-Putin Momentum Between Davos, Courchevel and Bolotnaya Square

“Fair Vote for Russia” rally in Berlin on February 4, 2012 « Fair Vote for Russia

A solidarity march for “Fair Vote for Russia” will take place on Saturday, February 4. Russian citizens and their Berlin supporters, including representatives of German NGOs and politicians, will take part in this action.The demonstrators have a number of demands for the Russian government: they are protesting against electoral fraud during the Duma elections of December 4, 2011; they are calling for the liberalization of Russian electoral law and the release of all political prisoners. The demonstration will begin at 14:00 at the Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations (Ostausschuss der Deutschen Wirtschaft) at Breiten Straße 29, pass the Russian Embassy (Unter den Linden 63) and move on to the Brandenburg Gate, where the demonstration will end at 18:00.This action is a continuation of the demonstrations of December 10 and 24, at which thousands of people in Russia and around the world protested on a massive scale against the electoral fraud which took place during the parliamentary elections on December 4, 2011. These protests resulted in the creation of the international movement “Fair Vote for Russia”, in which groups in 30 countries are involved. You can find out about events, demonstrations and other activities at www.facebook.com/groups/fvfrinternational/.

Panel discussion with German politicians and representatives of the movement “Fair Vote For Russia” takes place at 19:00 in “Evangelisches Konvict” (Borsigstr. 5, 10115 Berlin).

We invite all members of the press to attend the march and inform the public about this action for democracy in Russia. We ask representatives of NGOs, citizens’ initiatives, politicians and civil society in Germany to support our action.

“Fair Vote for Russia” rally in Berlin on February 4, 2012 « Fair Vote for Russia