January 10, 2009

Hamas and Israel: The social media propaganda war

Tel Aviv is using social media to state its case in the Gaza conflict, but Will Ward of Arab Media and Society says the most effective voices in the internet propaganda war hail from outside official channels.


Republicans search for their 'Obama'

Where will the Republican Party go in the age of Barack Obama? The political swamps of Louisiana offer a clue, says Jim Gabour for openDemocracy.

By Jim Gabour for openDemocracy.net

Until the autumn of 2008 a political gambler would have been given major odds by any bookie in America against a major change in national and world government emerging from the corrupt backwaters of Louisiana.

After all, this is the state that re-elected Representative William "Dollar Bill" Jefferson, even after he was caught by the FBI with US$90,000 in marked currency in his freezer. This is the state in which a city magnified the destruction of a cataclysmic hurricane by re-electing a mayor proved both incompetent and self-serving, a man still to this day able to stonewall wrongdoing by literally cursing anyone who questions his word or authority. This is the state served by Representative David Vitter, still holding a death-grip on his seat in Congress after years of paying for the illegal sexual services of call-girls and strippers.

This is Louisiana

And yet the unimaginable has happened. It happened because of the unlikely collusion of three "regular" guys, all named secondarily, by or for someone else.

There is Piyush, and Anh, and... Gustav.

Who are respectively Governor Piyush "Bobby" Jindal, Representative-elect Anh "Joseph" Cao and... hurricane Gustav.

Piyush entered the game first, a brilliant and sincere young man of Indian origins who was selected to revitalize a decaying department of health by a distinctively retro-conservative Republican governor. Chief executive Mike Foster was a man who ran a plantation with an iron hand and rode his chromed Harley-Davidson motorcycle to work. He encouraged his protégé to run to succeed him, but Jindal was unsuccessful, beaten by Democrat Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, who promptly had her political career destroyed by her handling of hurricane Katrina.

Through hard work and grassroots political acumen, Jindal eventually parlayed that first position into two terms in Congress, and finally into the same governorship he had coveted under Foster. He was successful, handsome, a moderate of sorts, he was America's first governor of Indian descent, and he was a first-generation American. That noted, he was immediately thrown into contention as a possible running mate for presidential hopeful John McCain.

Jindal reportedly turned down the offer, and McCain then disastrously decided that Jindal's complete opposite was really what America needed. Instead of the intellectual and intuitive man who had converted to Catholicism in his teens and considered the priesthood, who had attended Oxford University as a Rhodes scholar, America needed an over-dressed and under-briefed rustic Alaskan soccer mom.

"You betcha," said Sarah Palin.

"Nope," said America.

McCain's choice gave Barack Obama what he needed to win the presidency in November.

Immediately after the election, Republicans saw Jindal for what he is, the anti-Palin, and in less than a week every news magazine and editorial writer in America began writing of him as the true "future of the Republican party."

Newsweek, among others, said: "There are plenty of rising stars in the GOP. But in the wake of Barack Obama's victory on Nov. 4, none has attracted as much speculation, curiosity and unapologetic hype as Jindal."

Enter Gustav

Something else was originally scheduled to be on the ballot that November Tuesday, but was nowhere to be seen: the general election for the second congressional district House of Representatives seat from Louisiana.

Another unschooled entity, this one named Gustav by a committee of scientists, had already intervened in early September, crashing ashore in Louisiana to scatter residents and disrupt the scheduled Democratic Party primary for the House seat. The September election was set back to the November date. So instead of the general election that would encompass all parties, the presidential election Tuesday was, for the House election, merely the Democratic primary, and was again won handily by indicted Representative William Jefferson.

That dismal outcome was inevitable. Louisiana's second district was engineered as a blatant gerrymander to create the first majority African- American district in the state. That majority was inevitably parceled by power brokers into political action groups like SOUL, BOLD and COUP, all working organizations that guaranteed voter turnout of their members in return for tax-deductible contributions.

But they didn't have to work hard in November. With Obama's charismatic candidacy, there was no problem in turning out an unprecedented number of African-American voters in the second district. Jefferson's black opponents were overwhelmed as the skewed logic of empowerment prevailed, i.e., "He may be a crook, but he's our crook." His sole remaining opponent was a young attractive Hispanic woman with no real experience - she had been a TV news reporter prior to her run against Jefferson. The race was his.

But Jefferson still had the general election, now rescheduled to December, an election which the second district political organizations completely disregarded - they thought they had won in November, when Obama won, and that was that.

The future is Cao

Come December signs started sprouting along streets, signs touting a person named Anh "Joseph" Cao, the Republican candidate, and lone remaining major party candidate to face Jefferson. They were formidable signs, colourful and sturdy. They cost lots of money, which was suddenly being supplied not only by the national party, but by locals as well. People began asking who the fellow was, and most I knew simply said he was "Jefferson's only competition", so he was worth supporting, just to end the shame.

I researched a bit: Anh immigrated as a child to the United States from Vietnam, earned advanced degrees in physics and philosophy, like Jindal embraced a brief consideration of the priesthood, then took a law degree from Loyola University, where I teach. His specialty was immigration law. He stands just over five feet tall and is extremely shy, though articulate.

I have never before in my life voted for a Republican. But faced with the alternative of the further disgrace and inaction of another term from "Dollar Bill", I voted for Cao. The district's political action groups, thinking the race was in the bag, did not deign to come to the polls.

The rest of us did.

Cao won, the first person of Vietnamese extraction to be elected to Congress. Even his own people couldn't believe it. When they first started arriving in Louisiana after the war, there was resistance. Local residents did not want a wave of unknown foreigners. But slowly in New Orleans the idea of a people who loved the subtropics, fished for a living and drank beer, had rice as a staple of their diet and knew how to bake French bread - well, they seemed to fit right in. Most were French-style Catholics and formed a community in New Orleans East around their churches, though the Buddhist contingent congregated on the Westbank of the city.

It hasn't been that long since even being a Catholic or speaking French was a considered a serious detriment to getting elected to statewide office in Louisiana. Just a few decades ago it seemed a miracle that a Cajun French Catholic named Edwin Edwards became governor. Of course this is the man now sitting in a federal penitentiary, awaiting a pardon from the outgoing president, imprisoned for transgressions committed during his tenure as the state's highest elected official.

But suddenly there was Cao. And, like Jindal, the reaction was immediate:

"Less than 24 hours after his upset defeat of a longtime Democratic congressman from New Orleans, Anh ‘Joseph' Cao found the weight of the entire Republican Party resting on his diminutive shoulders.

"The chairman of the Republican National Committee said Cao's election Saturday night showed that, even battered and bruised from political drubbings in the past two years, Republicans ‘still know how to win elections.' House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) was more blunt, issuing a memo Sunday declaring: ‘The future is Cao.'"

Even Senator David Vitter, the politician of hooker-for-hire fame, was trying to cleanse himself by attaching to the new representative in an interview headlined as "Disgraced Senator talks about election of Joseph Cao as an improvement to Louisiana's image."

A clean slate

So what does this dual anachronism matter? Is it even minutely significant in the long term? Jindal is a strong campaigner and has political savvy, which Cao despite his integrity and intellect does not possess. Jindal was helped in gaining his office by campaigning among Baptist and Pentecostal churches, "testifying" at many, in the process embracing traditional black religious culture.

Though Cao has even taken the step of applying for membership in Congress's Black Caucus, he has not been well-received, and African-American political organisations in Cao's district will not be caught sleeping again. Despite his possible good work, a new clean slate and a progressive outlook, the district that re-elected Jefferson ten times may be unwilling to let someone who is not of their number continue a second term in Washington. You can't count on a hurricane like Gustav every election.

Still it seems amazing that in a state known for white rural conservatism, in a party that has doggedly kept its franchise white and traditional and Protestant, voters find that they have elected two men of colour, and of foreign origin, who have both intellectual depth and an overriding passion in their beliefs.

And more amazingly these two men, who both speak in complete sentences, now have the nation's and world's attention as the "future" of the Republican party.

A party that would previously never have counted on anyone named Piyush or Anh... or Gustav.

SWAT:A civilisation at risk

Source: Dawn, Pakistan

The unique, ancient and historic heritage of Swat is being destroyed in the name of religion

By Khurshid Khan

"Several renowned Buddhist scholars deliver Buddhist Philosophy as well as contemporary sciences in the valley. The Monasteries and schools are densely populated by uncountable students who have travelled here from far off lands. They are provided with accommodation and food," observed Sung Yun, the famous Chinese pilgrim who came to Swat in 519.A.D. He was overwhelmed by the heavenly peace, happiness and agricultural produce of the valley and wrote, "jungle fowls, deer and other wild animals openly roam the streets of the villages". Another traveller, Hiuen Tsiang (630 A.D) wrote about Swat's favourable climate and abundance of forests, flowers and fruit-trees. He spoke of 1400 monasteries on both sides of the River Swat.

The rulers of Swat State were the true heirs of Gandhara civilisation. They transformed Swat into a cradle of peace previously devastated by the Huns and other such barbarians. During the 16th century Swat State Era, an array of schools and hostels were constructed. It seemed that the spirit of Udyana and Gandhara civilisations was reincarnated. Today, this cradle of peace has once again been invaded by "modern" barbaric Huns. Undoubtedly this nation of barbarians is not native but has infiltrated from outside.

Before the establishment of Swat State, the valley was a victim of extreme restlessness, violence and anarchy. The day to day skirmishes and killing had entangled the society of Swat in its venomous tentacles. Famous Pashto saying about Swat was "Swat dakk da fasad" (Swat full of violence). The intelligent central authority of the Miangul Abdul Wadood (1917-1969) put the affairs on the right track and brought prosperity and peace back to the valley.

The inheritors of Gandhara Civilisation spread serenity and harmony in the valley. The name Udyana means garden where fragrant flowers, chirping birds, peace and tranquillity reign supreme. The valley of Swat is replete with historical relics from the banks of River Swat to the peaks of the snowy mountains. Udyana civilisation originated here and spread from Swat to Tibet in China. Several enchanting stupas and relics still embellish the landscapes. Some of these are in perfect condition while the others have been damaged badly. The sublime epitome of Gandharan Art, Swat museum, still boasts the conserved Buddhist relics and beautifully stone carved artefacts in perfect condition. The credit goes to the last Wali of Swat, Miangul Jahanzeb, who generously supported the Italian archaeologist who excavated the ancient historic heritage of Swat and won international status for the valley. These cultural heritages and legacies of Swat are the substantial examples of the civilised people occupying Swat.

America exploited religion against Russia in Afghanistan in securing its vested interests and departed victorious but left behind the fierce Arabian tribal culture in a guise of narrow interpretation of Islam, devastating the centuries-old legacy of Afghanistan and stigmatising the Afghan community all over the world.

The Wahabi influence has penetrated the Frontier, especially this side of the Durand Line. The unique, ancient and historic heritage of Swat is being destroyed in the name of religion. The historic stone-carved statue of seated Buddha in Jan Abad, which was second to Bamyan, was wiped out in this ongoing turbulence. This historic masterpiece of art is irretrievable, destroying the soft image of the valley worldwide.

These extremists are national criminals and the silent witnesses of these crimes are, in a sense, allies. The government has failed to conserve these historic relics because the Establishment has always refused to acknowledge the history that existed before 712 A.D. It has always attempted to impose an alien blanket identity upon the dwellers of the region, giving no room to be proud of their rich history.

The irony is that they talk of 'interfaith harmony' and 'tolerance' and consider tourism as a potential source of revenue but have not yet recognised the significance of cultural diversity in bringing about the same. It is proposed that a status of a "historic valley" should be given to Swat instead of a district. The electronic and print media can also play an important role to do the ground work in this context. The National Assembly should legislate cultural heritage laws to restrain the vandals and treasure hunters.

The valley has all the ingredients of building and maintaining a civilisation. If we do not raise a voice to reclaim and protect all these valuable resources, barbarism will replace civilisation in Swat.

The Great Gamble: The Soviet War in Afghanistan

Excerpt: 'The Great Gamble'
by Gregory Feifer
LISTEN NPR : http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=99090399
LISTEN : http://www.tantor.com/mp3/1057_GreatGamble.mp3

NPR.org, January 7, 2009 · According to at least one Soviet general staff officer, no one ever actually ordered the invasion of Afghanistan. Instead, between December 10 and 30, various units were given some thirty various directives to prepare for action. Defense Minister Dmitri Ustinov's lack of combat experience helps explain the absence of centralized implementation. A career spent building the military-industrial complex gave him scant knowledge of how to command the invasion of a sovereign state. Since it was beneath the marshal to ask subordinates for advice, staff activity remained largely uncoordinated.

On December 13, 1979, one of Afghan President Hafizullah Amin's Soviet cooks slipped KGB-provided poison into a lunch prepared for the new president and his nephew. The chemicals were estimated to start working after six hours. The Soviets hunkered down to wait for signs of panic at the presidential palace, after which a signal would be given to take over Kabul's key military and communications installations. When nothing happened after the allotted time had passed, the KGB station called Moscow to request further orders. It was decided to cable Amin from Moscow, providing a way to ascertain the president's health by delivering the message to the palace. After a personal communique was sent around eleven p.m., a military intelligence officer and an interpreter set out to deliver it to Amin. The Soviets had extra trouble passing the palace guard because of a nighttime curfew. But when they were finally admitted, Amin and his nephew Asadullah were there. Amin looked pale but showed no other signs of sickness. He listened while the interpreter read the telegram, thanked his visitors, and asked them to send his compliments to Brezhnev, KGB chairman Yuri Andropov, and the rest of the Soviet leadership.

Amin's poison had been dissolved in a glass of his favorite drink, Coca-Cola. Its bubbles rendered the concoction almost harmless. Amin's nephew Asadullah was less lucky. He became seriously ill by the following day, but survived after his evacuation to Moscow for treatment. When the vexing news was relayed to Moscow, an order was given to proceed with the ground-force operation anyway. Another paratroop battalion flew to Bagram to take part in storming the palace. The units obeyed a command to prepare until a second order came to stand down. There would be no coup d'etat attempt that day.

The top Soviet officials in Kabul later cabled Moscow that a successful operation would require more troops. That document was the main genesis of outright military invasion. After the failed assassination attempts, the operation grew into a full-scale assault as if on its own — thanks first to postponement, then inertia. Incredible as it may seem, no further Politburo meetings took place after December 12. Either the final decision was given orally or the directive was destroyed (together with many other single-copy documents) on Andropov's later orders. In any case, December 27 was picked as the day for "Storm-333": a new operation to kill Amin.

Excerpted from The Great Gamble: The Soviet War in Afghanistan, by Gregory Feifer, published in January 2009 by HarperCollins Publishers. Copyright: Russ Intellectual Properties, 2009, all rights reserved.

January 09, 2009

Ukraine: A key geopolitical battleground between Russia and the West

by Jose Miguel Alonso

Global Research, January 9, 2009

The countdown for Ukraine’s presidential election, to be held on January 31 2010, has already started. The much-anticipated electoral process will be decisive due to its deep geopolitical implications. Its result will have a considerable impact on the world’s balance of power. A fierce battle on Ukrainian soil approaches and it will be fought, once again, between pro-Western and pro-Russian forces.

During the so called ‘Orange Revolution’ a pro-Western coalition headed by former Ukrainian Central Banker Viktor Yushchenko came out victorious over the Party of Regions, lead by Viktor Yanukovich and prone to pro-Russian positions. Shortly afterwards, Kiev distanced itself from Moscow in order to become of the staunchest American allies in the post Soviet space (along with Mikheil Saakashvili’s Georgia). Since then, Ukrainian foreign policy has persistently sought membership in both the EU (European Union) and NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization).

That ‘regime change’ was evidently a major setback for Russian interests. Conspicuously enough, many American NGOs and semi-official organizations became actively involved, such as USAID, George Soros’ Open Society Institute and Freedom House (whose Chairman at the time was none other than former CIA Director James Woolsey).

As prominent neocon Charles Krauthammer declared "This [the Western-sponsored Orange Revolution] is about Russia first, democracy second…" which plainly means that the main goal of Washington’s efforts was to crown an unconditional regime in Kiev in order to further isolate Russia from Europe and ultimately dismantle the Russian Federation as a functioning Nation-State.

That project is hardly new; it was originally plotted by Polish intelligence officers in the early twentieth century. Back then it was called ‘Prometheism’ and its core methodology to break Russia into pieces included the support of separatist groups willing to antagonize Moscow both inside Russian territory and beyond its borders (that is, the Russian sphere of influence). Prometheism was reloaded by Zbigniew Brzezinski when he lured the Soviets into the Afghan trap using the Islamist card as bait. The idea was to create an irritant which could absorb and eventually erode Soviet power. Also, another goal of that endeavor was to instigate unrest in the predominantly Muslim (yet officially secular) Central Asian Republics which were part of the Soviet Union: Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 90’s, the Kremlin has been attempting to promote the idea of an economic reintegration in the Former Soviet Union (an area also called the ‘Near Abroad’ by Moscow’s geostrategists), using Russia’s gravitational pull to attract other countries belonging to the Post-Soviet Space. In its initial stages, this cooperation would encompass Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan (those States which are closer to Moscow in geographic, linguistic and demographic terms). If successful, this project could serve as a platform to launch some other initiatives meant to enhance this re-integration process by including some more participants and by establishing a parallel mutual defense system. This agenda has been pushed through several institutional organisms such as:

The Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEC) which includes Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Its main purpose is to advance the formation of a Single Economic Space in terms of trade, investments, customs regulation, foreign exchange control, energy markets and so on.

The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO, a.k.a. ‘The Tashkent Pact’) which encompasses Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Its founding charter stipulates that member States are not allowed to join any other military alliance. This agreement indicates that an aggression committed against any signatory would be regarded as an attack against all members.

The Union of Russia and Belarus. This project intends to merge both States economically, monetarily and politically. However, it is not yet clear how this unification will proceed so there have been disagreements over weather there will be some sort of confederacy or if Belarus will just be incorporated into the Russian Federation as another Oblast (administrative region).

The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). It is rather a multilateral forum which provides a space to promote joint initiatives and to discuss common issues.

Russia, needless to say, possesses many interests in the Former Soviet Union in terms of energy and military cooperation, development of natural resources and geostrategic concerns. However, Ukraine is the single most important Post-Soviet State for Moscow because:

Is a buffer State that prevents Russia’s European borders from being directly exposed to NATO forces. One must bear in mind that there is no considerable natural obstacle to attack Russia’s westernmost borders. This is a weakness which was exploited by invaders such as Napoleon and Adolph Hitler.

Possesses warm water ports in the Crimean Peninsula, like Odessa, Yalta and Sevastopol. The latter hosts the Russian Black Sea Fleet’s headquarters. Thus, the Ukraine is vital to maintain a Russian naval presence in the Black Sea. The Crimea, by the way, was transferred in 1954 from the Soviet Russian Republic to the Soviet Ukrainian Republic which is why Ukraine inherited it after the disintegration of the Soviet Union.

Has infrastructure linking Europe and Russia, particularly pipelines, railways and highways.

Is home to a considerable number of ethnic Russians and even a large portion of Ukraine’s population professes pro-Russian sympathies. Moreover, Russia and Ukraine share some common traits because they are countries mainly populated by Orthodox Slavs. The Medieval State called the ‘Kievan Rus’ is an ancestor to modern Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, i.e. the ‘Great Russians’, the ‘Little Russians’ and the ‘White Russians’, respectively. Thus, in the minds of Russian statesmen, a hostile government is Kiev is little more than a historic aberration that has to be corrected.

As previously stated, Ukrainian President Yushchenko has demonstrated an obstinate determination to embed Ukraine into Atlanticist institutions (e.g. the EU and NATO) at the expense of cooperation with Russia and he intends to achieve that as quickly as possible (presumably before his term is over or before someone else decides to put an end to it). Yushchenko’s pro-Western policies program has even met a considerable deal of domestic opposition. As polls indicate, the overwhelming majority (close to 50% or even a larger percentage according to other surveys) of Ukraine’s citizens do not favor membership in NATO so even a nation-wide referendum perhaps would be defeated. In 2006 the Sea Breeze Ukraine-NATO military exercise (scheduled to be held in the Crimean) did not take place because such plans sparked several protests denouncing NATO presence there.

Yushchenko’s administration unleashed the Kremlin’s wrath when his government provided weapons for Georgia prior to the latter’s attack against South Ossetia. Moreover, it has been reported that Ukrainian mercenaries participated in the fighting on Georgia’s side.

Therefore, taking into account all of the above; Russia cannot simply let a pro-Western coalition triumph in Ukraine’s incoming electoral process. For national security reasons and long-term geopolitical strategy, the Russians need a pro-Russian regime in Kiev just as much as the Americans need a friendly government in Mexico.

Moscow can count on the backing of the Party of Regions, firmly pro-Russian, and who is the dominant political force in Ukraine’s eastern part. The Kremlin has made substantial efforts to seduce (politically, that is) Yulia Timoshenko who, even if does not have the same pro-Russian sentiment as the Party of Regions, is well aware that recklessly provoking the Russian bear goes against Ukrainian national interests.

Just a few days ago, Ukraine experienced a cutoff in its gas natural gas supplies by Russia due to failed bilateral negotiations concerning the pricing of this fossil fuel. Other Eastern European States have also been affected by this, even though more important purchasers of Russian natural gas (read Germany) have not yet experienced the same deal of trouble. That means that this is apparently an effort undertaken by the Kremlin to carry out a controlled demolition of Ukraine’s pro-Western government, taking into account that Ukraine will hold presidential elections early next year. With this maneuver, Moscow is making its point clear to the EU that it is impossible to alienate Russian interests without expecting some meaningful retribution in return. The Putin-Medvedev duo is thus expressing that Russia is neither afraid nor hesitant to use a little bit of hard power to advance its key geopolitical objectives.

Therefore, the Kremlin will resort to every available option at its disposal to defeat the pro-Western political factions in Ukraine (i.e. to prevent Viktor Yushchenko from being reelected). Now, Moscow has many tools at its disposal that it can use to win this critical geopolitical battle. Russia can:

Exploit Ukrainian dependence on Russian energy

Negotiate with the West a geopolitical tradeoff (i.e. Atlantist abandonment of Ukraine in exchange for Russian abandonment of Iran).

Capitalize pro-Russian sentiment and mobilize political support for Ukrainian forces of pro-Russian orientation, mainly the Party of Regions, and even Yulia Timosehnko.

Use Russian language media outlets operating in Ukraine.

Employ Russian intelligence agencies and exploit the assets they have developed in Ukraine.

Manipulate Russian oligarchs as a foreign policy tool as a vehicle to advance Moscow’s interests in Kiev.

If Russia is indeed successful in empowering a friendly government in Kiev, that would be a major geostrategic victory that will return Ukraine back to the Russian sphere of influence. That would also mean the end of American intentions to accomplish NATO membership for Ukraine. Likewise, this success could become a catalyst to trigger a further (re)integration throughout the post-Soviet space. A post-Yuschchenko Ukraine could then be invited to join the CSTO, EurAsEC, the Union of Russia and Belarus and perhaps even the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization).

Even if the Kremlin fails, Putin and Medvedev still will be able to resort to military means to ensure that Russian interests ultimately prevail. The use of force to annex Ukraine’s eastern part (which is pro-Russian and is industrialized) must not be discarded. There have been many rumors concerning the Russian government distributing Russian passports all over the Crimea and Eastern Ukraine. In case the Yushchenko government targets pro-Russian citizens and even Russian passport holders, Moscow could intervene invoking the protection of its own citizens as a rationale. Here, one must bear in mind that the defense of Russian nationals is an integral part of the so called ‘Medvedev Doctrine’.

Assuming the Kremlin is triumphant in convincing the Europeans to comply with Russian interest in the Former Soviet Union, there still will be two members of the Atlantic community that will not be easily persuaded because they do not depend on Russian energy supplies: The United States and the United Kingdom. Moscow knows it can dispense carrots and sticks to both.

Nonetheless, that does not mean that there are no ways to put pressure on them. Moscow has also several levers which it can use to arrange an understanding with Washington and London. One bargaining chip that could be particularly useful is the links Russia has established with Iran. Moscow is Teheran’s main weapons provider and the Russian Nuclear Agency Rosatom is in charge of completing the Busher nuclear plant. The Kremlin could suggest a tradeoff with the US and the UK, i.e. Iran in exchange for Ukraine.

The role of Russia in Middle Eastern geopolitics must not be underestimaved under any circumstance. Some analysts explain Moscow’s decision to sell the S-300 air defense system to Iran as merely a vendetta against the US for supplying weapons, military advisors and training to Georgia. Nevertheless, such maneuver has a far deeper strategic significance because Russia could lure Washington into a deadly trap. The 2003 Anglo-American invasion of Iraq provided Moscow with a profitable opportunity to enhance its own power because the US became distracted by dedicating a considerable fraction of its military and diplomatic efforts to invade and later occupy Iraq.

Any eventual US invasion of Iran would not be necessarily undesirable for Russia at all. For the Americans, the Persian operations theater would be definitively far more challenging than Iraq because Iran is territorially larger, its geography is more complex, has a higher degree of internal cohesion (even though it is not ethnically homogeneous) and it has a better and bigger arsenal.

In case Israel decides to attack Iran and is assisted by the US, such situation could lead to a quagmire that will entrap the Americans in Iranian soil. This will imply that, for Russian geostrategists, Persia will be a sort of ‘black hole’ which will suck up a formidable amount of American resources in terms of troops, funds and power projection in general. Russia would thus obtain an ample opportunity to consolidate its power in the post-Soviet space and it just turns out that Ukraine is right at the very top of Russia’s strategic agenda because of the reasons discussed beforehand.

Another option is to raise the stakes in the US neighborhood (read the American hemisphere) by supporting regimens openly hostile to American power and even by fueling instability in Mexico. Moscow has been busy developing closer ties in South America and the Caribbean which were, until recently, regarded as Washington’s exclusive backyard.

The case of Venezuela is noteworthy because it has become a major buyer of Russian-made military equipment. Venezuela has purchased tanks, fighter aircraft, assault rifles and so on from Russia. Moscow and Caracas have deepened their cooperation to the point that Venezuelan soil has hosted Russian long range strategic bombers as well as military sea vessels.

Moscow is probably considering increasing somehow its presence in Venezuela, but it knows that the stability of the Hugo Chavez regime is uncertain. The dramatic drop of oil prices has been problematic for Venezuela because oil exports are its largest source of income and, thus, they provide funds needed to finance ambitious public policies. Regardless of that, Russia is preparing to collaborate with Venezuela in order to apply a good dose of geopolitical pressure on the US in its own continent.

The Russian government has also become a close friend of Nicaragua. Actually, besides Moscow, Managua is the only capital that has granted Abkhazia and South Ossetia diplomatic recognition. It is predictable that in 2009, to persuasively convince Washington to stop messing with Russian interests in Eurasia, the Kremlin will seek more cooperative links (commercial, diplomatic, arms sells, etc.) with some other Latin American governments prone to display anti-American proclivity, such as Ecuador, Bolivia and even Paraguay.

Cuba’s devastation by meteorological phenomena offers Moscow a sizeable opportunity to increase its presence in the Caribbean and maybe even to exert some influence in eventual economic and political reforms in the island. Indeed, the Kremlin has already manifested its will to participate financially and logistically in the Cuban reconstruction efforts. It is logical that they will receive a generous and grateful compensation from Havana.

There has been some discussion regarding Russo-Cuban intentions to reinforce links between both States, specifically in areas like cooperation on defense issues. Moscow has been seriously contemplating the possibility of stationing strategic bombers, fighter jets and maybe even submarines in the Caribbean island, as well the opening of electronic intelligence collection facilities. With the Kremlin’s contribution toward the reconstruction of Cuba, Russia has just found a window of opportunity to advance those goals.

One can reasonably conclude that Russia is more than serious in its efforts to get Ukraine back in the Russian orbit. Putin and Medvedev hold many tools at their disposal in order to make Russian interests ultimately prevail. The Kremlin has thus developed an integral strategy designed to convince both the Europeans and the Americans that they have to take into considerations Moscow’s wishes. Otherwise, they would have to face very serious repercussions indeed.

Global Research Articles by Jose Miguel Alonso



By Dr. Subhash Kapila

Introductory Observations

Pondering agonizingly over India’s paralysis in not striking back credibly against Pakistan in response to the Pakistan Army and its ISI-sponsored “war of terror” assault on India’s sovereignty at Mumbai on November 26, 2008, this Author came across a feature in “The Jerusalem Post” written against the back drop of the assaults on Israel’s sovereignty by Hezbollah earlier and Hamas presently and why Israel strikes back forcefully.

The point that caught attention in this feature was that currently, the Israeli Defense Forces in their senior commanders training lays emphasis on how modern warfare is conducted. Israel believes that emphasis today should not be on which side conquers more territory or loses more fighters and fighter aircraft – as was the case in conventional battles such as the 1967 Six War, “but rather on perceptions. In other words, the victor is the side that is perceived to have won”.

Applying this precept in the context of Mumbai 9/11 and India’s paralysis in the post-Mumbai 9/11 phase of over a month, one painfully comes to the conclusion that the root cause of India’s lack of credible responses against the Pakistani military establishment, the ISI and their affiliated Islamic Jihadi terrorist organizations, is that Pakistan established a superiority over India in the “Battle of Perceptions”.

India’s long history of not striking back at major Pakistan-sponsored terrorism incidents from 1992 onwards, India’s misplaced faith that “Friends of Pakistan” would dissuade Pakistan and restrain Pakistan’s war-like provocations against India and Indian political leadership of the day shirking from the will to use power, despite preponderant instruments of power at their command, led to Mumbai 9/11 – a “war of terror” on India when a handful of Pakistan terrorists held India to ransom for three days in sustained gun battles and blasts. In those three days more than 200 lives were lost.

Post-Mumbai 9/11, India’s political leadership fell back in its traditional mould of shirking to use power to safeguard India’s “National Honour” and the unprovoked assault on her sovereignty.

Brave statements were made by India’s political leaders that “all options are on the table” in terms of a riposte to Pakistan. But the one option that India should have exercised in the first few days of Mumbai 9/11, “continues to lie on the table” even after a month of the attacks.

India’s political leaders to strategically chastise Pakistan for its proven involvement and culpability in Mumbai 9/11 attacks moved away from their strident calls on Pakistan to atone for Mumbai 9/11 to a “diplomatic offensive” to present clinching evidence to world capitals. The Indian policy establishment should realize that it is not fighting a “court case” where evidence will count. Does it not occur to the Indian Government that it is dealing in terms of terrorism with a “rogue state” dominated by Pakistan Army on whose agenda, peace with India does not figure. Nor would any guarantees by Pakistan military establishment count that no further terrorist war against India would take place. Are not Pakistan’s broken pledges to the United States to wage war on terrorism, a lesson to be learnt and kept in mind?

India continued to be let down by its political leaders, policy advisors and policy formulation mechanisms in not responding firmly at the outset and thereby further reinforcing Pakistan’s “perceptions” that India can be played around with and will not respond even after a "thousand bleeding cuts"

The Pakistani policy establishment and its more powerful military establishment stood emboldened by their “perceptions” of India’s leadership vulnerabilities to launch Mumbai 9/11 and stand further emboldened by the “perceptions” once again that India would be unable to strike back and continue to seek assistance and support from “Friends of Pakistan”, rather than acting on her own strengths.

Pakistan therefore stands to have won the “Battle of Perceptions” on both counts due to India’s flawed counter-terrorism responses.

This Author’s last paper entitled “India: Policy Establishments Failure on Pakistan Threat Assessment (SAAG Paper No. 2987 dated 19 Dec. 2008 has already brought out in fair detail the flawed threat assessments on President Zardari and General Kiyani, Pakistan Army Chief of India’s political leadership and India’s policy establishment.

This Paper intends to be a study of the following aspects of the “Battle of Perceptions” between India and Pakistan and is discussed under the following heads:

India’s Flawed Perceptions on Pakistan
India’s Misplaced Perceptions of Trust in “Friends of Pakistan” to Restrain Pakistan’s “War of Terror” Against India
Pakistan’s Perceptions of India’s Paralysis to Strike Back, Post -Mumbai 9/11
This Paper is not going to elaborate on what India’s responses should be, which is a separate subject by itself but focus entirely on why India fails to strike back credibly and creates “wrong perceptions” in Pakistan. Only if India had done so in the past and does so now after her “diplomatic offensive” is over, can then India hope that the “appropriate perceptions” have been created in the Pakistani military establishment's mind that India cannot be messed around with.

But before addressing the above aspects, a bit of digression is required to highlight Indian political leader’s propensity to shirk from safeguarding India’s “National Honor” and India’s propensity to rely on the international community to discipline Pakistan’s “War of Terror”.

India’s Political Leaders Propensity to Shirk from Safeguarding India’s National Honour and Propensity to Seek International Support to Discipline Pakistan’s “War of Terror”

India’s political leadership of both the previous Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the present ruling Congress Party have both demonstrated a propensity to shirk from safeguarding India’s National Honour” and a marked propensity to seek international support, more specifically from the United State to discipline Pakistan’s “War of Terror” against India. Both have abdicated their responsibilities and seek to “outsource India’s counter-terrorism” to the international community.

The BJP after armed attacks on India’s Parliament House in December 2002 mobilized the entire Indian Army on Pakistan’s borders and promised an “Aar Pas Ki Larai”, the mother of all battles, to end Pakistan’s terrorism against India. It was a bold move which could have brought decisive results had Indian forces struck in the first few months. The BJP leadership let the strategic advantage fizzle out after a year, under pressure from the United States.

The Congress government in the wake of Mumbai 9/11 gave strong indications that it would indulge in air and missile strikes and should Pakistan enlarge the conflict use India’s conventional might. Once again, history has been repeated and the Congress Government, like the BJP Government buckled under United States pressures for restraint. Once again India’s strategic advantages over Pakistan were foreclosed.

India’s political leaders of all political dispensations need to be reminded of a few home-truths on both these counts from two quotations from the noted British strategist Maj. Gen. Fuller, which this Author incorporated in the last chapter entitled “Prescriptions for India’s National Security” in his book “India’s Defence Policies & Strategic Thought: A Comparative Analysis”. They read as follows. First on “National Honour”:

“There is only one balsam which can make peace worth living – Honour, which is righteousness. There are sublimer ideals than mere peacefulness, and honour is one of these. Peace without honour is degradation and as a noble woman safeguards her honour, and will even sacrifice her life to maintain it in order to keep the family clean, and as a man will give up his life to protect her and her children, so will an upright nation because of its honour, not only protect but sacrifice itself for righteousness cause. All may be lost save honour, for without honour mankind ceases to be human”

and then the thoughts on nations relying on international support to safeguard “National Honour” and this presently applies to India in more ways than one:

“The nation which depends for the security of its honour on some international force (or support from a superpower: my emphasis) has become but a kept woman among nations. There is only one guardian of honour – a virile arm backed by a virile brain. Again a state, which is not prepared to defend its honour by a righteous war, and depends on the benevolence of others to guarantee its existence, when life is threatened, is but a paralytic living in an alm-house; it has scarcely the right to live, for it lacks the might to thrive”

These two messages for all Indian political leaders should be self-explanatory and also denote what Indian public opinion expect from their political leaders, especially when after Mumbai 9/11 Indian nationalism stands aroused.

If India’s political leaders pay heed to these two maxims, they would be able to ensure that the next time around India is subjected to another Pak-initiated terrorist strike, India’s instruments of power stand readied and are used for flick-knife retaliation without the agony of unending debates on Indian TV and media as to what India’s options should be. Nor would there be any requirement to heed advice of “Look before you leap”, India should at all times be ready for a strategic and military leap to chastise its aggressors.

India’s Flawed Perceptions on Pakistan

India’s political leaderships and policy establishment’s flawed perceptions and misplaced readings on the emergence of President Zardari and General Kayani and their impact on Indo-Pak security environment stand discussed in the last Paper of this Author. Timely warnings on these two dignitaries on this account, given months in advance of Mumbai 9/11 stood reflected in this Author’s Papers since mid-2008.

India’s flawed perceptions on Pakistan prevailing in the mindsets of Indian political leaders and policy making establishment are reflected below in brief.

Strategically and militarily, the following misperceptions seem to prevail in India’s policy making circles: (1) Pakistan with its nuclear weapons arsenal is the strategic equal of India (2) In case of Indian military strikes against Pakistan, that country could strike back with nuclear weapons (3) Pakistan has the capability and wherewithal to enlarge a limited war into a general war (4) China could enlarge and intervene in any Indo-Pakistan armed conflict (5) Pakistan can inflict massive damage in retaliation of Indian strikes.

India should welcome Pakistan crossing the nuclear threshold as it would be a suicidal step for the destruction and disintegration of Pakistan. China in the current security environment where Pakistan’s “war of terror” could visit Xinjiang also would not be tempted to go beyond rhetoric in any Indo-Pak armed conflict.

Politically, the Indian policy making mindset is dominated by the following misperceptions (1) Pakistan could develop into a peaceful neighbor with more political patience and understanding from India (2) Pakistan’s politics domination by Islamic fundamentalist elements could fade away (3) Pakistan Army could be brought under firm control of a civilian democratic political government (4) Pakistan’s civil society wants peace with India (5) Pakistan’s civil society could bring about the over throw of Pakistan Army’s political dominance of Pakistan’s governance (6) Track II diplomacy and use of Special Indian Envoys to Pakistan could facilitate peaceful Indo-Pak relations (7) Pakistan is a responsible stake-holder in regional peace and a responsible member of the international community.

To any discerning Indian policy maker it should be evidently clear that all the above perceptions of Indian policy establishment on Pakistan are misplaced and wrong. There are no concrete indications on the ground to suggest otherwise.

It are these strategic, military and more substantially the political misperceptions on Pakistan which have distorted Indian policy-makers formulations on Pakistan and the absence of an Indian credible response to Pakistan’s provocation “war of terror” against India.

India’s political leaders and policy establishment needs to recognize the reality that more than a decade of Track II diplomacy and the flitting of Special Envoys between New Delhi and Islamabad have not brought the two countries to peaceful co-existence. This is for the simple reason that the Pakistan Army calls the shots in Pakistan on its foreign policies and peace with India is not Pakistan Army’s objective.

India’s Misplaced Perceptions of Trust in “Friends of Pakistan” to Restrain Pakistan’s “War of Terror” Against India

Pakistan would like to claim the international community as “Friends of Pakistan” because most of the Western countries, China and the oil-rich Islamic monarchies of the Gulf Region bankroll Pakistan’s sustenance, notwithstanding that the bulk of these finances are diverted to the Pakistan Army and the operation of Pakistan’s “War of Terror” against India and Afghanistan.

In terms of discussion of India’s misplaced trust in “Friends of Pakistan” to restrain Pakistan’s “War of Terror” against India, the discussion in this Paper would focus on the role of the United States, China and Saudi Arabia.

Despite 9/11 when the United States itself was subjected to a combination of Pakistani operated and Saudi-financed terrorism onslaught against mainland USA, the United States has been reluctant to recognize that the Pakistani “War of Terror” against India is also part of the global Islamic Jihad and needs to be firmly dealt with in a concerted manner by the global community by backing strong actions by India against Pakistan, rather than diplomacy.

The United States has the strategic, military, political and economic clout to stop Pakistan’s “War of Terror” against India. But it would not use that clout, because Pakistan colludes in American strategy in the region and India does not.

India’s trust that an evolving US-India Strategic Partnership would make America play a different ball-game in South Asia, vis-à-vis Pakistan, is grossly misplaced, in light of Mumbai 9/11.

The flurry of top US dignitaries visiting New Delhi in the wake of Mumbai 9/11 were not intended to reinforce New Delhi’s resolve to strike back at Pakistan but to pressurize India not to resort to military strikes against Pakistan and exercise restraint.

China enjoys even more stronger strategic, military, political and economic clout over Pakistan. In the wake of Mumbai 9/11 and moreso in the years preceding it, China was in a strong and coercive position to restrain Pakistan’s “War of Terror” against India. It did not do so for reasons best known to every Indian.

In the wake of Mumbai 9/11, China has advocated restraint on both India and Pakistan. However the actual message should have been a stern and salutary message by China to Pakistan, that its “War of Terror” in the region, which may eventually engulf Xinjiang too, should stop. China can be expected to continue to support Pakistan even now in its face-off with India.

Saudi Arabia as far as international terrorism is concerned is along with Pakistan is the “Real Axis of Evil”. Saudi Arabian Islamic charities finance Pakistani terrorist organizations “War of Terror” on both flanks of Pakistan. Pakistan is heavily dependant on Saudi Arabia for free oil supplies, financial aid and political backing. Saudi Arabia more than USA and China could discipline Pakistan in a second if it wishes to.

The visit of Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister last month was meaningless. He hesitated and shirked from condemning Pakistan’s “War of Terror” against India. His visit was meaningless even if India intended that through it to send a message to Islamic Countries.

In any case it should have struck the Indian policy establishment that no Gulf Region Islamic countries have come out with any outright condemnation of Pakistan following 9/11. Further the media in these countries has been spewing vitriolic outbursts that India is now involved in American-Zionist conspiracies to fragment Pakistan and its nuclear arsenal – the only one in the Islamic world. More cynically that Mumbai 9/11 was fabricated by India intelligence agencies as an excuse for the above.

All in all, the stark pointer is that India cannot rely on the international community to curb Pakistan’s “War of Terror”. The “Friends of Pakistan” count on Pakistan to serve their strategic ends and would go to great lengths to protect Pakistan from India’s wrath however well placed.

Pakistan’s Perceptions of India’s Paralysis to Strike Back, Post Mumbai 9/11

In the “Battle of Perceptions” post-Mumbai 9/11 Pakistan seems to have established a superiority over India by correctly perceiving India’s paralysis.

Gleaning through the demonstrated performance and statements of Pakistan’s political and military leaders and the writings of Pakistani columnists in their media, the Pakistani perceptions of India’s paralysis to strike back post-Mumbai 9/11 were read as follows: (1) India failed to strike back against Pakistan in 2002-2003 OP PRAKARM despite an initial advantage of surprise and strength. (2) In the large number of major terrorist attacks in India by Pak-sponsored terrorists or their modules within India there were no retaliatory responses from India (3) India every time took the “softer route” of attempting to enlist international condemnation against Pakistan (4) Pakistan this time too was confident that after the first few days of general condemnation, the international community would lapse back as hithertofore (5) Pakistani columnists harped on India’s military machine not being fully prepared for war due to incomplete inventories and slow inflow of Russian military hardware (6) Pakistan’s military establishment was confident in their perceptions that India would not be able to obtain substantial USA, China, Saudi Arabia backing for Indian retaliatory strikes against Pakistan.(7) India would be held back by fears that any assertive step could lead to internationalizing of the Kashmir issue.

Indian political leader’s propensity to shirk away from using “hard options” to protect India’s “National Honour” and rely more on international condemnation of Pakistan was correctly read by the Pakistani military establishment.

The course of events even after a month post-Mumbai 9/11 seem to bear out Pakistan’s military establishments perceptions of India in terms of retaliatory strikes or other hard actions.

To that extent it can be said that Pakistan has established superiority over India in the “Battle of Perceptions” unless India now decides to change course, in confronting Pakistan’s “War of Terror” against India.

The current "diplomatic offensive" by India and providing dossiers of clinching involvement of Pakistan's official establishment in Mumbai 9/11 will not shame the Pakistani military establishment or prompt it to any positive action to dismantle its terror-networks or extradite the wanted terrorists to India for trial.

At the end of this "diplomatic offensive" Pakistan's military establishment's "Perceptions" of India's soft responses would continue.

India would be left then with only two options, namely to execute military strikes against Pakistan or just accept a "lump-it" situation.

Concluding Observations

The major concluding observations that need to be made are as under:

India cannot endlessly go on buckling to Pakistan Army sponsored and Pakistan based “War of Terror” against India.
The next such “War of Terror” strike against India would perforce pressurize the present Indian Government or the one that succeeds it to go in for the “hard option” of retaliatory military strikes, irrespective of the cost.
USA, China and Saudi Arabia would be well-advised as “Friends of Pakistan” to clamp down on Pakistan Army sponsored terrorist organization in Pakistan and their disruptive activities as any future conflict on this count could also jeopardize their respective national security interests in this region.
Pakistan itself needs to realize that when its traditional intransigence against India pushes India to the wall, it could result in another fragmentation of Pakistan as in 1971.
India needs to recognize that “diplomatic offensives” do not tame strategic delinquencies of military-dominated nations like Pakistan. Hard options are called for:
Finally, India’s political leaders need to recognize that threats to Indian “National Honour”, sovereignty and security have to met squarely and eliminated by India and India alone. India's counter-terrorism operations cannot be "out-sourced" to others.
(The author is an International Relations and Strategic Affairs analyst. He is the Consultant, Strategic Affairs with South Asia Analysis Group. Email:drsubhashkapila@yahoo.com)

Harnessing space energy

11:59 | 06/ 01/ 2009

MOSCOW. (Yury Zaitsev, for RIA Novosti) - European Union leaders agreed during the Brussels summit on global warming to cut 1990 levels of carbon dioxide emissions 20% by 2020.

However, some researchers theorize that global warming is ending and that world temperatures will cool in the foreseeable future.

Naturally, this does not mean that the world must scrap programs for cutting toxic emissions into the atmosphere. Humankind will face an environmental disaster if the volume of harmful substances continues to increase. Although alternative sources of energy, now generating only 1-2% of all power worldwide, could solve the problem, even industrial countries are in no hurry to use them.

This can be explained by a number of factors. Alternative-energy sources are expensive. Traditional energy giants which do not want to lose their profits are pressuring governments not to implement them. It is also believed that our conservative society would find it hard to adapt to a new lifestyle. Nevertheless, we cannot do without alternative energy sources. Only 0.0125% of solar-radiation energy could meet global energy demand, while 0.5% could solve many long-term energy problems.

The so-called external photo-effect, or external photo-emission, when light quantums hit materials and generate electrons is the simplest power-generation concept. In 1930, Soviet physicists from the Leningrad-based Physical Technical Institute used this method to generate electricity for the first time in history.

Although sulfur-helium solar batteries used at the time had an efficiency of less than 1%, more advanced solar batteries with 10% efficiency were developed by the mid-1970s. Their efficiency was raised to 15% by the mid-1990s and reached 20% at the turn of the century. This was made possible by streamlining silicon production from quartzites, the main solar-battery element. Incidentally, Russia abounds in super-pure quartzite.

Five years ago, the Dubna-based Joint Institute for Nuclear Research near Moscow displayed a solar battery with 50% efficiency. Scientists called their brainchild the Star Battery using nanotechnologies to facilitate the effectiveness of well-known processes.

A 0.5-mm thick silicon film is injected with tiny gold particles. The properties of this precious metal alter efficiency so much that two, rather than five or six, photons of light can now generate one electron. This method has clear practical applications: One square meter of a solar battery can now generate about 600 Watts; and its capacity can be boosted to one kWt.

Scientists from Dubna have made a super-condenser using the same substance. A cylinder with a diameter of three-centimeters can store 900 times more power than a car battery. This is important because solar power plants only operate during the day, while power is needed round the clock and must therefore accumulated inside high-capacity batteries.

The first commercial solar power plant was commissioned in 1985 near the town of Shchelkino in the Crimea in the Soviet Union and had a peak load of 5 mWt, or just as much as the world's first nuclear reactor. But the costly and inefficient power plant had to be shut down in the mid-1990s, as on Earth it could not work to full capacity. Consequently, we must consider building such power plants in outer space.

The Presidium of the Soviet Academy of Sciences discussed this issue soon after Yury Gagarin's trailblazing space flight in April 1961 and said it deserved every attention. In the years that followed, experts started designing numerous space-based solar power plants, especially during the global energy crisis of the mid-1970s.

But all of them had to be placed into geostationary orbits, specifically geosynchronous orbit directly above the Earth's equator (0° latitude), approximately 36,000 km above sea level and with a period equal to the Earth's rotational period. Although these orbits are the most efficient routes for transmitting electricity back to Earth, there are not many parking places left, with numerous satellites launched by many countries, whose operation could be disrupted by such power plants. Moreover, it costs $35,000-50,000 to orbit one kilogram of geostationary payload. Any solar power plant would only recoup itself if launch costs are reduced to $100-200 per kilogram of payload.

Technically speaking, Russia would prefer a sun-synchronous orbit - a geocentric orbit combines altitude and inclination in such a way that an object on that orbit passes over any given point on the Earth's surface at the same local solar time. When launched, a solar power plant would have an apogee of 40,000 km above the North Pole, while its 500-km perigee would be located 500 km over the South Pole.

The power plant would transmit electricity eight hours a day to the most power-strapped northern Russian regions, while its batteries would accumulate electricity during another four hours.

The Keldysh Research Center's experts have come up with a concept for building low-orbit power plants that would transmit electricity to Earth. They estimate that 10 to 30 solar power plants could be built by 2020-2030. Each power plant would consist of ten 15-mWt modules. Under optimistic scenarios, up to 800 power plants could be orbited by 2050-2100.

Apart from the photo effect, there are other methods for converting solar radiation into electricity. This includes the thermodynamic method for converting solar energy into heat energy. A solar-radiation concentrator is focused on a heat absorber, which subsequently builds heats. Its working medium, namely, gas, oil or any other liquid, begins to boil, turns into steam and starts rotating the turbine that generates electricity. The efficiency of such method could reach 40% and more.

However, the use of metal-intensive systems, such as turbines, radiators and electric generators, increases power-plant weight.

They could convert electricity into UHF beams with frequencies ranging between one millimeter and one meter and transmit them back to Earth. In that case, not more than 2% of power would be lost in the atmosphere. The narrower laser beams generated and received by small units could also transmit power to the planetary surface. However, atmospheric laser-ray absorption could reduce power-transmission efficiency.

It would become necessary to develop an impressive array of vehicle-assembly buildings, aerospace transport systems and orbital tugs for delivering solar power plant components to their working orbits. In fact, this is the same mind-boggling task as the creation of orbital solar power plants themselves.

Russian scientists also suggest other scenarios for solving power-supply problems with the help of up-to-date space technology. There are plans to develop space platforms with solar reflectors for illuminating polar regions and opencast mines, for increasing crop yield, etc. Such reflectors would illuminate 30-km sectors for several hours before sunrise and after dusk any place in the world.

Japan and the United States are also developing orbital power plants. Tokyo wants to orbit a power plant by 2020, while Washington hopes to do the same at an earlier date.

In the next few decades, the space power industry will become a rapidly developing global economic sector and will eventually cost as much as conventional power plants on Planet Earth.

Yury Zaitsev is an academic adviser with the Russian Academy of Engineering Sciences.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.

January 08, 2009

The current crisis was predicted 30 years ago

16:10 08/ 01/ 2009

MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti economic commentator Vlad Grinkevich) - The current economic crisis came as a bolt from the blue for most. In the meantime, experts warned in the early 1970s that the world economy was heading for a crisis in the first decades of the 21st century.

In the 1960s, Western countries concluded that oil-stained beaches, smoggy megalopolises, and heavy pollution of major European rivers were too high a price for the benefits of mass production. In 1968, a group of industrialists, politicians, and scientists set up the Club of Rome in the Italian capital. They had enough money to conduct a series of studies with the participation of prominent scientists, and the use of tested methods.

Computer-predicted disaster

The Club's first report, which had the tell-tale title "Limits to Growth," caused a shock. It was compiled by a group of scientists headed by Dennis L. Medows, who decided to create a cybernetic model of global development. Having focused on five global processes: fast industrialization, population growth, increasing shortage of food, depletion of non-renewable resources, and degradation of the environment, they modeled the future on a computer.

The emotionless machine produced an answer that sounded like a verdict: the human race is in for a disaster. Considering that the population was growing at a rate of over two percent annually at that time, while industry was growing at up to five to seven percent, modern civilization was bound to reach the limits of growth in the first decades of the 21st century. Mineral resources will have been depleted; environmental pollution will have become irreversible; a sudden uncontrolled drop in the population and decline in production will have become inevitable. Millions of people will have died as a result of man-made catastrophes, spontaneous economically motivated social conflicts and unknown pandemics.

To prevent the cataclysm, the authors of the report offered a concept they called "zero growth," under which new purchases should only replace used up items. For example, a new car should be purchased only when the old one has stopped running; there should be universal birth control - no more than two children per family, and they suggested restricting consumption.

The report was a bombshell. It called into doubt the foundations of the Western economies. The zero growth concept contradicted the very logic of industrialized society which rested on the principle of supply-and-demand. The concept did not offer a future for the poor people of the non-capitalist world: a resident of a Soviet communal apartment was bound to live in it until he died, while a Chinese peasant was doomed to heat his hut with manure and dead-wood.

Does the truth begin as heresy?

Needless to say, the report was subjected to severe criticism, primarily because its authors did not offer any solutions. They admitted that their model was far from ideal, but the conclusions of their opponents were no less fallacious. Optimistic scenarios were not limited to only good wishes. The concept of a post-industrial society, for one thing, promised a miraculous salvation. It was very similar to the bright future predicted by communist ideologists.

Unprecedented technical breakthrough was the sine qua non both for building communism in the U.S.S.R. and for post-industrialized society in the West. It was supposed to produce technology which would resolve a number of environmental and socio-economic problems (for instance, let machines do arduous, dirty work).

As a result, the elites of the industrially advanced countries preferred to live with a due account of restrictions, and grow until they reach the natural limits in the hope of a technological leap which would allow them to go beyond the limits.

Global self-deception

The talk of the looming global crisis quickly ground to a halt in the latter half of the 1980s. Optimists were bragging about the resolution of global problems, and many analysts were confident that the bright post-industrial future had already arrived.

They seemed to be right but only at first glance. The majority of the European and U.S. middle class were white collar workers, involved in finances, marketing, and research. But in reality, driven by the market's logic, the leaders of the industrialized countries simply followed the path of least resistance. They switched the dirtiest and most labor-consuming industries to the developing countries, and let guest workers from the same countries take the worst jobs at home because they were cheaper than machines.

However, practice has shown that even a very advanced country cannot resolve global problems alone. Indeed, the once lifeless Czech Vltava or the German Rhine now abound with dozens of fish species, but the environmental crisis which the West has overcome is now looming elsewhere. It became clear that it would go beyond the limits of assembly lines several years ago when the Amur River was covered by a huge benzol spill. Resource restrictions are even more obvious - regardless of where a plant or factory oriented to the world market is located, a certain amount of resources is required to produce a commodity.

Finally, to control the production scattered all over the world, a sophisticated financial system had to be construed. With time, it started taking on a life of its own, produced by a fictitious economy with the profits of financial institutions depending not on real production but on intricate financial transactions.

This resulted in a big number of disproportions in the world economy. Investment in the financial market surpassed corporate capital, while the funds accumulated in the financial bubble exceeded the money in the real economy by many times.

As a result, an attempt to mothball the problem ended in failure. Having reached the limits of growth, the financial system collapsed and triggered the current economic turmoil.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti

The Limits to Growth
Abstract established by Eduard Pestel. A Report to The Club of Rome (1972),
by Donella H. Meadows, Dennis l. Meadows, Jorgen Randers, William W. Behrens III

Short Version of the Limits to Growth

Our world model was built specifically to investigate five major trends of global concern – accelerating industrialization, rapid population growth, widespread malnutrition, depletion of nonrenewable resources, and a deteriorating environment.

The model we have constructed is, like every model, imperfect, oversimplified, and unfinished.

In spite of the preliminary state of our work, we believe it is important to publish the model and our findings now. (...) We feel that the model described here is already sufficiently developed to be of some use to decision-makers. Furthermore, the basic behavior modes we have already observed in this model appear to be so fundamental and general that we do not expect our broad conclusions to be substantially altered by further revisions.

Our conclusions are :

1. If the present growth trends in world population, industrialization, pollution, food production, and resource depletion continue unchanged, the limits to growth on this planet will be reached sometime within the next one hundred years. The most probable result will be a rather sudden and uncontrollable decline in both population and industrial capacity.

2. It is possible to alter these growth trends and to establish a condition of ecological and economic stability
that is sustainable far into the future. The state of global equilibrium could be designed so that the basic
material needs of each person on earth are satisfied and each person has an equal opportunity to realize his
individual human potential.

If the world's people decide to strive for this second outcome rather than the first, the sooner they begin
working to attain it, the greater will be their chances of success.

All five elements basic to the study reported here--population, food production, and consumption of
nonrenewable natural resources--are increasing. The amount of their increase each year follows a pattern
that mathematicians call exponential growth.

A quantity exhibits exponential growth when it increases by a constant percentage of the whole in a
constant time period.

Such exponential growth is a common process in biological, financial, and many other systems of the

Exponential growth is a dynamic phenomenon, which means that it involves elements that change over time.
(...) When many different quantities are growing simultaneously in a system, however, and when all the
quantities are interrelated in a complicated way, analysis of the causes of growth and of the future behavior
of the system becomes very difficult indeed.

Over the course of the last 30 years there has evolved at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology a new
method for understanding the dynamic behavior of complex systems. The method is called System
Dynamics. The basis of the method is the recongnition that the structure of any system--the many circular,
interlocking, sometimes time-delayed relationships among its components--is often just as important in
determining its behavior as the individual components themselves. The world model described in this book is
a System Dynamics model

Extrapolation of present trends is a time-honored way of looking into the future, especially the very near
future, and especially if the quantity being considered is not much influenced by other trends that are
occuring elsewhere in the system. Of course, none of the five factors we are examining here is independent.
Each interacts constantly with all the others. We have already mentioned some of these interactions.
Population cannot grow without food, food production is increased by growth of capital, more capital
requires more resources, discarded resources become pollution, pollution interferes with the growth of both
population and food.

Furthermore, over long time periods each of these factors also feeds back to influence itself.

In this first simple world model, we are interested only in the broad behavior modes of the population-capital
system. By behavior modes we mean the tendencies of the variables in the system (population or pollution,
for example) to change as time progresses.

A major purpose in constructing the world model has been to determine which, if any, of these behavior
modes will be most characteristic of the world system as it reaches the limits to growth. This process of
determining behavior modes is "prediction" only in the most limited sense of the word.

Because we are interested at this point only in broad behavior modes, this first world model needs not be
extremely detailed. We thus consider only one general population, a population that statistically reflects the
average characteristics of the global population. We include only one class of pollutants--the long-lived,
globally distributed family of pollutants, such as lead, mercury, asbestos, and stable pesticides and
radioisotopes--whose dynamic behavior in the ecosystem we are beginning to understand. We plot one
generalized resource that represents the combined reserves of all nonrenewable resourCes, although we
know that each separate resource will follow the general dynamic pattern at its own specific level and rate.

This high level of aggregation is necessary at this point to keep the model understandable. At the same time
it limits the information we can expect to gain from the model.

Can anything be learned from such a highly aggregated model? Can its output be considered meaningful? In
terms of exact predictions, the output is not meaningful.

On the other hand it is vitally important to gain some understanding of the causes of growth in human
society, the limits to growth, and the behavior of our socio-economic systems when the limits are reached.

All levels in the model (population, capital, pollution, etc.) begin with 1900 values. From 1900 to 1970 the
variables agree generally with their historical value to the extent that we know them. Population rises from
1.6 billion in 1900 to 3.5 billion in 1970. Although the birth rate declines gradually, the death rate falls more
quickly, especially after 1940, and the rate of population growth increases. Industrial output, food and
services per capita increase exponentially. The resource base in 1970 is still about 95 percent of its 1900
value, but it declines dramatically thereafter, as population and industrial output continue to grow.

The behavior mode of the system is that of overshoot and collapse. In this run the collapse occurs because
of nonrenewable resource depletion. The industrial capital stock grows to a level that requires an enormous
input of resources. In the very process of that growth it depletes a large fraction of the resource reserves
available. As resource prices rise and mines are depleted, more and more capital must be used for obtaining
resources, leaving less to be invested for future growth. Finally investment cannot keep up with
depreciation, and the industrial base collapses, taking with it the service and agricultural systems, which
have become dependent on industrial inputs (such as fertilizers, pesticides, hospital laboratories, computers,
and especially energy for mechanization). For a short time the situation is especially serious because
population, with the delays inherent in the age structure and the process of social adjustment, keeps rising.
Population finally decreases when the death rate is driven upward by lack of food and health services. The
exact timing of these events is not meaningful, given the great aggregation and many uncertainties in the
model. It is significant, however, that growth is stopped well before the year 2100. We have tried in every
doubtful case to make the most optimistic estimate of unknown quantities, and we have also ignored
discontinuous events such as wars or epidemics, which might act to bring an end to growth even sooner
than our model would indicate. In other words, the model is biased to allow growth to continue longer than
it probably can continue in the real world. We can thus say with some confidence that, under the
assumption of no major change in the present system, population and industrial growth will certainly stop
within th next century, at the latest.

To test the model assumption about available resources, we doubled the resource reserves in 1900, keeping
all other assumptions identical to those in the standard run. Now industrialization can reach a higher level
since resources are not so quickly depleted. The larger industrial plant releases pollution at such a rate,
however, that the environmental pollution absorption mechanisms become saturated. Pollution rises very
rapidly, causing an immediate increase in the death rate and a decline in food production. At the end of the
run resources are severely depleted in spite of the doubled amount initially available.

Is the future of the world system bound to be growth and then collapse into a dismal, depleted existence?
Only if we make the initial assumption that our present way of doing things will not change. We have ample
evidence of mankind's ingenuity and social flexibility. There are, of course, many likely changes in the
system, some of which are already taking place. The Green Revolution is raising agricultural yields in non
industrialized countries. Knowledge about modern methods of birth control is spreading rapidly.

Although the history of human effort contains numerous incidents of mankind's failure to live within
physical limits, it is success in overcoming limits that forms the cultural tradition of many dominant people
in today's world. Over the past three hundred years, mankind has compiled an impressive record of pushing
back the apparent limits to population and economic growth by a series of spectacular technological
advances. Since the recent history of a large part of human society has been so continuously successful, it
is quite natural that many people expect technological breakthrough to go on raising physical ceilings

Will new technologies alter the tendency of the world system to grow and collapse?

Let us assume, however, that the technological optimists are correct and that nuclear energy will solve the
resource problems of the world.

Let us also assume a reduction in pollution generation all sources by a factor of four, starting in 1975.

Let us also assume that the normal yield per hectare of all the world's land can be further increased by a
factor of two.Besides we assume perfect birth control, practiced voluntarily, starting in 1975.

All this means we are utilizing a technological policy in every sector of the world model to circumvent in
some way the various limits to growth. The model system is producing nuclear power, recycling resources,
and mining the most remote reserves; withholding as many pollutants as possible; pushing yields from the
land to undreamed-of heights; and producing only children who are actively wanted by their parents. The
result is still an end to growth before the year 2100.

Because of three siumultaneous crises. Overuse of land leads to erosion, and food production drops.
Resources are severly depleted by a prosperous world population (but not as prosperous as the present US
population). Pollution rises, drops, and then rises again dramatically, causing a further decrease in food
production and a sudden rise in the death rate. The application of technological solutions alone has
prolonged the period of population and industrial growth, but it has not removed the ultimate limits to that

Given the many approximations and limitations of the world model, there is no point in dwelling glumly on
the series of catastrophes it tends to generate. We shall emphasize just one more time that none of these
computer outputs is a prediction. We would not expect the real world to behave like the world model in any
of the graphs we have shown, especially in the collapse modes. The model contains dynamic statements
about only the physical aspects of man's activities. It assumes that social variables--income distribution,
attitudes about family size, choices among goods, services, and food--will continue to follow the same
patterns they have followed throughout the world in recent history. These patterns, and the human value
they represent, were all established in the growth phase of our civilization. They would certainly be greatly
revised as population and income began to decrease. Since we find it difficult to imagine what new forms of
human societal behavior might emerge and how quickly they would emerge under collapse conditions, we
have not attempted to model such social changes. What validity our model has holds up only to the point in
each output graph at which growth comes to an end and collapse begins.

The unspoken assumption behind all of the model runs we have presented in this chapter is that population
and capital growth should be allowed to continue until they reach some "natural" limit. This assumption also
appears to be a basic part of the human value system currently operational in the real world. Given that first
assumption, that population and capital growth should not be deliberately limited but should be left to "seek
their own levels", we have not been able to find a set of policies that avoids the collapse mode of behavior.

The hopes of the technological optimists center on the ability of technology to remove or extend the limits to
growth of population and capital. We have shown that in the world model the application of technology to
apparent problems of resource depletion or pollution or food shortage has no impact on the essential
problem, which is exponential growth in a finite and complex system. Our attempts to use even the most
optimistic estimates of the benefits of technology in the model did not prevent the ultimate decline of
population and industry, and in fact did not in any case postpone the collapse beyond the year 2100.

Unfortunately the model does not indicate, at this stage, the social side-effects of new technologies. These
effects are often the most important in terms of the influence of a technology on people's lives.

Social side-effects must be anticipated and forestalled before the large-scale introduction of a new

While technology can change rapidly, political and social, insitutions generally change very slowly.
Furthermore, they almost never change in anticipation of social need, but only in response to one.

We must also keep in mind the presence of social delays--the delays necessary to allow society to absorb or
to prepare for a change. Most delays, physical or social reduce the stability of the world system and
increase the likelihood of the overshoot mode. The social delays, like the physical ones, are becoming
increasingly more critical because the processes of exponential growth are creating additional pressures at a
faster and faster rate. Although the rate of technological change has so far managed to keep up with this
accelerated pace, mankind has made virtually no new discoveries to increase the rate of social, political,
ethical, and cultural change.

Even if society's technological progress fulfills all expectations, it may very well be a problem with no
technical solution, or the interaction of several such problems, that finally brings an end to population and
capital growth.

Applying technology to the natural pressures that the environment exerts against any growth process has
been so successful in the past that a whole culture has evolved around the principle of fighting against limits
rather than learning to live with them.

Is it better to try to live within that limit by accepting a self-imposed restriction on growth? Or is it
preferable to go on growing until some other natural limit arises, in the hope that at that time another
technological leap will allow growth to continue still longer? For the last several hundred years human
society has followed the second course so consistently and successfully that the first choice has been all but

There may be much disagreement with the statement that population and capital growth must stop soon. But
virtually no one will argue that material growth on this planet can go on forever. At this point in man's
history, the choice posed above is still available in almost every sphere of human activity. Man can still
choose his limits and stops when he pleases by weakening some of the strong pressures that cause capital
and population growth, or by instituting counterpressures, or both. Such counterpresures will probably not
be entirely pleasant. They will certainly involve profund changes in the social and economic structures that
have been deeply impressed into human culture by centuries of growth. The alternative is to wait until the
price of technology becomes more than society can pay, or until the side-effects of technology suppress
growth themselves, or until problems arise that have no technical solutions. At any of those points the
choice of limits will be gone.

Faith in technology as the ultimate solution to all problems can thus divert our attention from the most
fundamental problem--the problem of growth in a finite system--and prevent us from taking effective action
to solve it.

On the other hand, our intent is certainly not to brand technology as evil or futile or unnecessary. We
strongly believe that many of the technological developments mentioned here--recycling, pollution-control
devices, contraceptives--will be absolutely vital to the future of human society if they are combined with
deliberate checks on growth. We would deplore an unreasoned rejection of the benefit of technology as
strongly as we argue here against an unreasoned acceptance of them. Perhaps the best summary of our
position is the motto of the Sierra Club : "Not blind opposition to progress, but opposition to blind progress".

We would hope that society will receive each technological advance by establishing the answers to three
questions before the technology is widely adopted. The questions are:

- What will be the side-effects, both physical and social, if this development is introduced on a large scale?

- What social changes will be necessary before this development can be implemented properly, and how
long will it take to achieve them ?

- If the development is fully successful and removes some natural limits to growth, what limit will the
growing system meet next? Will society prefer its pressures to the ones this development is designed to

We are searching for a model that represents a world system that is:

1. sustainable without sudden and uncontrollable collapse; and

2. capable of satisfying the basic material requirements of all of its people

The overwhelming growth in world population caused by the positive birth-rate loop is a recent
phenomenon, a result of mankind's very successful reduction of worldwide mortality. The controlling
negative feedback loop has been weakened, allowing the positive loop to operate virtually without constraint.
There are only two ways to restore the resulting imbalance. Either the birth rate must be brought down to
equal the new, lower death rate, or the death rate must rise again. All of the "natural" constraints to
population growth operate in the second way--they raise the death. Any society wishing to avoid that result
must take deliberate action to control the positive feedback loop--to reduce the birth rate.

But stabilizing population alone is not sufficient to prevent overshoot and collapse; a similar run with
constant capital and rising population shows that stabilizing capital alone is also not sufficient. What happens
if we bring both positive feedback loops under control simultaneously? We can stabilize the capital stock in
the model by requiring that the investment rate equal the depreciation rate, with an additional model link
exactly analogous to the population-stabilizing one.

The result of stopping population growth in 1975 and industrial capital growth in 1985 with no other
changes is that population and capital reach constant values at a relatively high level of food, industrial
output and services per person. Eventually, however, resource shortages reduce industrial output and the
temporily stable state degenerates. However, we can improve the model behavior greatly by conbining
technological changes with value changes that reduce the growth tendencies of the system.

Then the stable world population is only slightly larger than the population today. There is more than twice
as much food per person as the average value in 1970, and world average lifetime is nearly 70 years. The
average industrial output per capita is well above today's level, and services per capita have tripled. Total
average income per capita (industrial output, food, and services combined) is about half the present average
US income, equal to the present average European income, and three times the present average world
income. Resources are still being gradually depleted, as they must be under any realistic assumption, but the
rate of depletion is so slow that there is time for technology and industry to adjust to changes in resource

If we relax our most unrealistic assumption--that we can suddenly and absolutely stabilize population and
capital, replacing them with the following:

1. The population has access to 100 percent effective birth control.

2. The average desired family size is two children.

3. The economic system endeavors to maintain average industrial output per capita at about the 1975 level.
Excess industrial capability is employed for producing consumption goods rather than increasing the
industrial capital investment rate above the depreciation rate.

We do not suppose that any single one of the policies necessary to attain system stability in the model can or
should be suddenly introduced in the world by 1975. A society choosing stability as a goal certainly must
approach that goal gradually. It is important to realize, however, that the longer exponential growth is
allowed to continue, the fewer possibilities remain for the final stable rate.

Many people will think that the changes we have introduced into the model to avoid the growth-and collapse
behavior mode are not only impossible, but unpleasant, dangerous, even disastrous in themselves. Such
policies as reducing the birth rate and diverting capital from production of material goods, by whatever
means they might be implemented, seem unnatural and unimaginable, because they have not, in most
people's experience, been tried, or even seriously suggested. Indeed there would be little point even in
discussing such fundamental changes in the functioning of modern society if we felt that the present pattern
of unrestricted growth were sustainable into the future. All the evidence available to us, however, suggests
that of the three alternatives--unrestricted growth, a self-imposed limitation to growth, or a nature-imposed
limitation to growth--only the last two are actually possible.

Achieving a self-imposed limitation to growth would require much effort. It would involve learning to do
many things in new ways. It would tax the ingenuity, the flexibility, and the self-discipline of the human
race. Bringing a deliberate, controlled end to growth is a tremendous challenge, not easiliy met. Would the
final result be worth the effort? What would humanity gain by siuuch a transition, and what would it,lose?
Let us consider in more detail what a world of nongrowth might be like.

We have after much discussion, decided to call the state of constant population and capital, by the term
"equilibrium". Equilibrium means a state of balance or equality between opposing forces. In the dynamic
terms of the world model, the opposing forces are those causing population and capital stock to increase
(high desired family size, low birth control effectivness, high rate of capital investment) and those causing
population and capital stock to decrease (lack of food, pollution, high rate of depreciation or obsolescence).
The word "capital" should be understood to mean service, industrial, and agricultural capital combined. Thus
the most basic definition of the state of global equilibrium is that population and capital are essentially stable,
with the forces tending to increase or decrease them in a carefully controlled balance.

There is much room for variation within that definition. We have only specified that the stocks of capital
and population remain constant, but they might theoretically be constant at a high level or a low level--or one
might be high and the other low. The longer a society prefers to maintain the state of equilibrium, the lower
the rates and levels must be.

By choosing a fairly long time horizon for its existence, and a long average lifetime as a desirable goal, we
have now arrived at a minimum set of requirements for the state of global equilibrium. They are:

1. The capital plant and the population are constant in size.The birth rate equals the death rate and the capital
investment rate equals the depreciation rate.

2. All input and output rates--birth, death, investment, and depreciation--are kept to a minimum.

3. The levels of capital and population and the ratio of the two are set in accordance with the values of the
society.They may be deliberately revised and slowly adjusted as the advance of technology creates new

An equilibrium defined in this way does not mean stagnation. Within the first two guidelines above,
corporations could expand or fail, local populations could increase or decrease income could become more
or less evenly distributed. Technological advance would permit the services provided by a constant stock of
capital to increase slowly. Within the third guideline, any country could change its average standard of living
by altering the balance between its population and its capital. Furthermore, a society could adjust to
changing internal or external factors by raising or lowering the population or capital stocks, or both, slowly
and in a controlled fashion, with a predetermined goal in mind. The three points above define a dynamic
equilibrium, which need not and probably would not "freeze" the world into the population

Capital configuration that happens to exist at present time. The object in accepting the above three
statements is to create freedom for society, not to impose a straitjacket.

What would life be like in such an equilibrium state? Would innovation be stifled? Would society be locked
into the patterns of inequality and injustice we see in the world today? Discussion of these questions must
proceed on the basis of mental models, for there is no formal model of social conditions in the equilibrium
state. No one can predict what sort of institutions mankind might develop under these new conditions.
There is, of course, no guarantee that the new society would be much better or even much different from
that which exists today. It seems possible, however, that a society released from struggling with the many
problems caused by growth may have more energy and ingenuity available for solving other problems. In
fact, we believe, that the evolution of a society that favors innovation and technological development, a
society based on equality and justice, is far more likely to evolve in a state of global equilibrium than it is in
the state of growth we are experiencing today

Population and capital are the only quantities that need be constant in the equilibrium state. Any human
activity that does not require a large flow of irreplaceable resources or produce severe environmental
degradation might continue to grow indefinitely. In particular, those pursuits that many people would list as
the most desirable and satisfying activities of man--education, art, music, religion, basic scientific research,
athletics, and social interactions--could flourish.

All of the activities listed above depend very strongly on two factors. First, they depend upon the availability
of some surplus production after the basixc human needs of fod and shelter have been met. Second, they
require leisure time. In any equilibrium state the relative levels of capital and population could be adjusted to
assure that human material needs are fulfilled at any desired level. Since the amount of material production
would be essentially fixed, every improvement in production methods could result in increased leisure for
the population--leisure that could be devoted to any activity that is relatively nonconSuming and
nonpolluting, such as those listed above

Technological advance would be both necessary and welcome in the equilibrium state. The picture of the
equilibrium state we have drawn here is idealized, to be sure. It may be impossible to achieve in the form
desribed here, and it may not be the form most people on earth would choose. The only purpose in
describing it at all is to emphasize that global equilibrium need not mean an end to progress or human
development. The possibilities within an equilibrium state are almost endless.

An equilibrium state would not be free of pressures, since no society can be free of pressure. Equilibrium
would require trading certain human freedoms, such as producing unlimited numbers of children or
consuming uncontrolled amounts of resources, for other freedoms, such as relief from pollution and
crowding and the threat of collapse of the world system. is possible that new freedoms might also
arise--universal and unlimited education, leisure for creativity and inventiveness, and, most important of all,
the freedom from hunger and poverty enjoyed by such a small fraction of the world's people today.

We can say very little at this point about the practical, day by-day steps that might be taken to reach a
desirable, sustainable state of global equilibrium. Neither the world model nor our own thoughts have been
developed in sufficient detail to understand all the implications of the transition from growth to equilibrium.
Before any part of the world's society embarks deliberately on such a transition, there must be much more
discussion, more extensive analysis, and many new ideas contributed by many different people.

The equilibrium society will have to weigh the trade-offs engendered by a finite earth not only with
consideration of present human values but also with consideration of future generations. long-term goals
must be specified and short term goals made consistent with them.

We end on a note of urgency. We have repeatedly emphasized the importance of the natural delays in the
population-capital system of the world. These delays mean, for example, that if Mexico's birth rate gradually
declined from its present value to an exact replacement value by the year 2000, the country's population
would continue to grow until the year 2060. During that time the population would grow from 50 million to
130 million. We cannot say with certainty how much longer mankind can postpone initiating deliberate
control of its growth before it will have lost the chance for control. We suspect on the basis of present
knowledge of the physical constraints of the planet that the growth phase cannot continue for another one
hundred years. Again, because of the delays in the system, if the global society waits until those constraints
are unmistakably apparent, it will have waited too long.

If there is cause for deep concern, there is also cause for hope. Deliberately limiting growth would be
difficult, but not impossible. The way to proceed is clear, and the necessary steps, although they are new
ones for human society, are well within human capabilities. Man possesses, for a small moment in his
history, the most powerful combination of knowledge, tools, and resources the world has ever known. He
has all that is physically necessary to create a totally new form of human society--one that would be built to
last for generations. The two missing ingredients are a realistic, long-term goal that can guide mankind to
the equilibrium society and the human will to achieve that goal. Without such a goal and a commitment to

it, short-term concerns will generate the exponential growth that drives the world system toward the limits
of the earth and ultimate collapse. With that goal and that commitment, mankind would be ready now to
begin a controlled, orderly transition from growth to global equilibrium.