January 03, 2019

Chinese don’t fight Chinese, but they might invade your island

SupChina.com


On New Year’s Day, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文 Cài Yīngwén) gave a speech (EnglishChinese) in which she describes “four musts” (四個必須 sìgè bìxū) for a “healthy and normal” relationship between Beijing and Taipei:

I am calling on China that it must face the reality of the existence of the Republic of China (Taiwan); it must respect the commitment of the 23 million people of Taiwan to freedom and democracy; it must handle cross-strait differences peacefully, on a basis of equality; and it must be governments or government-authorized agencies that engage in negotiations. These "four musts" are the most basic and crucial foundations that will determine whether cross-strait relations develop in a positive direction.


About 24 hours later, General Secretary Xí Jìnpíng 习近平 gave a speech to mark the “40th Anniversary of the Chinese Mainland's Message to Compatriots in Taiwan” (Xinhua report, full text of speech in Chinese). The vision of Taiwan’s future he set out was irreconcilable with Tsai’s. Some key points:

Unification of China and Taiwan is “the great trend of history” and an important part of Xi’s China Dream of national rejuvenation. Taiwan’s status is, according to Xi, not up for any kind of negotiation.Under a “one country, two systems” framework, “the social system and way of life in Taiwan will be fully respected, and the private property, religious beliefs and legitimate rights and interests of Taiwan compatriots will be fully protected after peaceful reunification is realized,” promised Xi.Xi made the laughable claim that "Chinese don't fight Chinese," which he rendered even more absurd by threatening Taiwan in his next breath: “We make no promise to renounce the use of force and reserve the option of taking all necessary means."

Further reading:

Xi Jinping warns Taiwan that unification is the goal and force is an option / NYT (porous paywall)Xi Jinping says Taiwan 'must and will be' reunited with China / BBCTaiwan President Tsai Ing-wen tells Beijing it ‘must’ respect island’s sovereignty, people’s choices / SCMPUnification plan from China finds few takers in Taiwan / NYT (porous paywall)Taiwan will never accept 'one country, two systems' scheme: Tsai / Focus TaiwanTaiwan's main political parties take issue with Xi's remarks / Focus Taiwan

Zafar Khan Ghazi Masjid at Tribeni was Ancient Vishnu Temple

Zafar Khan Ghazi Masjid at Tribeni in Bengal, India was built on a demolished ancient Vishnu Temple in 1298 CE.
Tribeni is a town near Kolkata and was a meeting point of three rivers Ganga, Jamuna and Saraswati.

Inscription on Zafar Khan’s tomb was translated by british office H.Balochman, which read as “Khan the lion of lions has appeared by conquering the towns of India in every expedition and by restoring the decayed religious institutions. And he has destroyed the obdurate among the infidels with his sword and spear and lavished the treasures of his wealth in helping miserable”.
The title Ghazi is given to an Islamic warrior who has slaughtered and destroyed the kaffirs (non-believers).
One can notice hindu temple architecture on entrance doors, walls and pillars.
Details regairding history of Vishnu Temple like who built it and when are still unknown.
British officer D.Money of the Bengal civil services who had met with the Khadims(servents) of Ghazi Zafar Khan’s muesoleum in the year 1847 scanned some of the documents given to him by the Khadims, the documents clearly stated that Zafar Mohamed Khan along with his nephew shah Sufi came from western India to slay the infidels (Hindus) of Bengal and turn them to Islam.
It mentions that Zafar Khan fought and converted local ruler Man Nirapati to Islam.
It was the second battle with the ruler Budheb that the all conquering Ghazi met his fate by having his head chopped off and his torso buried in Tribeni.

Mosque’s east door clearly resembles at temple entrance architecture, while the Mangal Ghat is full of designs on temple walls.
Metal pieces in below picture are from Battle Axe of Zafar Khan, which he used to destroy temple walls.

Motifs of Chain and hanging flower on western wall of Masjid.

Motifs of Chain and Lamp on another wall of Masjid.

Broken Temple Pillars were found behind the Masjid.

Door Frame towards north also shows temple architecture and designs.

West Chamber of Temple, where one of the temple faces is hidden by bricks.

Temple doors can be seen on North, South and West sides of this Masjid.


This Masjid has a wall with the Vedic Anahata Chakra.

Which is also the Shatkona and also represents the cosmic dance of Siva as Nataraja.

Zafar Khan Ghazi Masjid has many such walls which prove that it was once upon a time a Lord Vishu Temple.
The Dasavatar carvings on North wall also proves it to be originally Vishnu Temple.

Sanskrit inscriptions can also be found on one of the temple walls. Also those walls have stories of Ramayana and Lord Krishna.

There is a tomb at west face of this temple.





https://www.booksfact.com/history/zafar-khan-ghazi-masjid-tribeni-ancient-vishnu-temple.html

Subhrak, Horse which killed Qutbuddin Aibak



Subhhrak (शुभ्रक) is a less known loyal horse in Indian history. It was owned by Karna Singh, the King of Chittorgarh.
Quṭb al-Dīn Aibak also spelt Quṭb ud-Dīn Aibak or Qutub ud-Din Aybak (1150–1210 CE), was the founder of the Mamluk dynasty and the first sultan of the Delhi Sultanate.

He was born to Turkic parents in Turkistan. In his childhood, Aibak was sold as a slave and raised at Nishapur, Persia, where he was purchased by the local Qazi.
After death of his master, he was sold by his master’s son and eventually became a slave of Muhammad of Ghor who made him the Amir-i-Akhur, the Master of Slaves.
He was appointed to military command and became an able general of Muhammad of Ghor.
Around 1170 CE, young princess Kurma Devi daughter of Nayaki Devi (Regent Queen of Gujarat) was wedded to Samar Singh Deva, the Rawal of Chittorgarh. Samar Singh was a Chauhan Rajput, a descendant of the legendary Bappa Rawal.
Kurma Devi (misspelled as Kuramdevi or karma devi in historical records) was Samar Singh’s second wife.
In 1171 CE, Samar Singh had married Prithabai, sister of Prithviraj III, the Chauhan maharaja of Ajmer and Delhi. Soon after her marriage, Prithabai had born a son, Kalyan Rai, but having failed to bear any further sons, fell out of favor of the King in the following years.
Rawal Samar Singh married again, hoping for more sons, in about 1178 or 1179, approximately around the same time Nayakidevi administered that resounding defeat to Muhammad Ghori.

Kurma Devi defeated Qutb-ud-din Aibak

Samar Singh was killed in the 2nd Battle Of Tarain (1191-92 AD) fought between the forces of Prithiviraj Chauhan and Muhammad Ghori, who had returned to conquer India.
Both Samar Singh Deva and his eldest son, Kalyan Rai, died in the second battle of Tarain, and, when Prithabai received the news of her double loss, she immediately mounted the pyre to rejoin her husband. Kurma Devi would eventually follow her, but first she had unfinished business to tend to. She had to ensure that her son Karna seamlessly succeeded his father and that his seat on the throne of Chittorgarh was secure.
By this time Muhammad Ghori had retreated to Multan having left Qutub-ud-din Aibak, his chief general, in charge of Delhi and Ajayameru (Ajmer). During this time Kurma Devi consolidated her forces, forging new alliances with Rajput rulers of the neighbourhood.

When his father Samar Singh died, Karna Singh was still a minor, around 12 years of age. The succession encountered no serious obstacles, and Kurma Devi became regent during the remaining year of her son’s minority. Inspired by the example set by her own mother, young Kurma Devi was an able ruler and re-strengthened her forces following the loss suffered in the 2nd Battle of Tarain.
When the boy king Karna reached his 13th birthday , she led the army and marched northward in search of the man who had killed her husband, in 1194 CE in the month of Asoj (Aswin) following Dassera, the traditional beginning of the warfare season. Nine rajas and eleven chiefs with the title of rawat with their men accompanied her on her march towards Delhi.

As per the battle described in Prithvi Raj Raso, young Kurma Devi and her forces encountered Qutb-ud-din and his army near the old Amber fort.
At the head of her army, leading the charge herself, just like her mother, brave Kurma Devi drove deep into the ranks of Qutub-ud-din’s Army, deep enough for her to confront the general himself and to challenge him in a personal duel.
During the mounted duel, she managed to bury her sword deep into Qutb-ud-din’s flesh, wounding him so severely that he tumbled from the saddle.
Seeing their General fall, and his body being carried away from the fight and, consequently, believing him dead, the Muslim army went into a complete disarray and fled from the battlefield.
Having believed She had killed Qtub-ud-din, and seeing his army fleeing the battlefield, Kurma Devi regrouped her army and led it back south.
Returning to Chittorgarh, she mounted the pyre and, like Prithabai.

Return of Qutbuddin Aibak

Qtub-ud-din did not die from his wounds. He eventually recovered and returned to Delhi, and subsequently declared himself not viceroy but Sultan of Hind.
He destroyed the temple of Vishnu, which also had Dhruv Sthambh or Vishnu Dhwaj. This was later named as Qutub Minar in Delhi.
With capital at Delhi, Aibak subjugated areas between the Ganga and Yamuna rivers. He then turned his attention to the Rajputs who were still resisting Ghūrid domination. In 1195–1203 CE, he mounted campaigns against their strongholds, while his lieutenant Muhammad bin Bakhtiyar Khilji conquered Bihar and Bengal.
After Muhammad Ghori was killed by Prithviraj Chauhan. Aibak was the logical successor.
Technically he was still a slave but he quickly obtained manumission. He married the daughter of Taj al-Din Yildiz of Ghazna, one of the other principal claimants to succeed Muhammad of Ghor.

He attacked Mewar once again and captured Karna Singh (son of Kurma Devi). Along with the looted wealth and king, he also carried Karna Singh’s horse Subhrak to Lahore.
Subhrak in sanskrit means, one who is wearing symbols of Subha (good). Like women wear bangles and anklets, this horse was wearing bracelets or anklets to its legs and it was a lucky horse.
After reaching Lahore, Karna Singh tried to escape but was caught again.
Qutubuddin ordered to behead Karna Singh and to increase the disgrace, to play a Polo Match with the dead King’s head.
Next day, to witness beheading, Qutubuddin arrived at the venue riding on the Subhrak horse.

Subhrak (Shubrak) instantly recognized his master Karna Singh and started crying.
When he was freed of chains to cut his head , Subhrak suddenly became uncontrollable and threw Qutubuddin on to the ground.
Without allowing him to defend, Subhrak started hitting his chest and head area with his mighty hooves continuously. After 12–15 powerful hits by a horse, Qutubuddin Aibak died on the spot.
This incident is not covered in history written by detractors. They have written that Qutbuddin Aibak died after falling from a horse.
Which horse is it and how does a person, who was riding horses since age of 11, suddenly fall from a pet horse and die ?

Entire gathering was shocked to see Aibak’s death in hands of Subhrak.
Before the army tried to capture it, Subhrak ran towards its master Karna Singh, who mounted the horse and escaped.
Several days and nights, Subhrak ran and one day it came to the palace of Udaipur.
As soon Karna Singh got down and began to greet his beloved horse, the horse appeared like a statue and had no life in it.
When Karna Singh touched its head, Subhrak fell to the ground, dead !
History of such a loyal horse was omitted in Indian, while ancient persian books recorded how Aibak this incident.




https://www.booksfact.com/history/subhrak-horse-killed-qutbuddin-aibak.html

Horse and Qutubuddin Aibak's death: Truth

It's a written fact in history that the first ruler of Slave Dynasty in Delhi Sultanate Qutubuddin Aibak died due to falling off from a running horse.

But is it really possible that an army general who first rode a horse in the age 11 and fought countless battles on riding horses can die from falling from a horse?

*Not really!*

When Qutubuddin Aibak looted the Rajputana, he killed the king of Mewar and imprisoned his Prince Karn Singh. And along with the looted wealth and prince, he also carried Prince's horse *Shubhrak* to Lahore.

In Lahore, once Prince decided to run away and got caught in that process. Qutubuddin ordered to behead the Prince and to increase the disgrace, to play a Polo Match with the dead Prince's head.

On the day of beheading, Qutubuddin arrived at the venue riding on the Shubhrak horse. Shubhrak instantly recognized his master Karn Singh and started crying/braying seeing him.

Within a few seconds, Shubhrak became uncontrollable and threw Qutubuddin to the ground. Without allowing him to defend, Shubhrak started hitting his chest and head area with his mighty hooves continuously. After 12–15 powerful hits by a horse, Qutubuddin Aibak died on the spot.

Every single person stunned seeing that. The whole army marched to kill the horse and the Prince. But like a lightning, Shubhrak ran towards his master Karn Singh and when Prince sat on him, he started to run the most difficult journey of his life.

He ran and ran and ran continuosly for 3 days and stopped at the gates of Mewar Kingdom. When Prince Karn Singh came down from the saddle, Shubhrak stood still like a statue.

When Karn Singh rubbed his hands on Shubhrak's head, he fell to the ground.

He was successful to save his master and to escort him safely to his kingdom before dying.

We have read about Chetak many times but this horse's story is beyond faithfulness!

Things like these never becomes a part of syllabus in our modern education system.

Most of us haven't heard that name. Have we?

THIS IS BURIED HISTORY SHARE OUR GLORY.👏

December 31, 2018

Taliban crossing points in Balochistan


Source: Tweet by Col. Lawrence Sellin

Taliban crossing points in Balochistan
1. Bahram Chah
2. Nushki
3. Shorawak
4. Badini.

Pakistan permits Taliban bases with recruitment, training, logistics, R&R and medical treatment in Pakistani clinics. Pakistan’s military allows the Taliban free movement across the border.

The EU Defense Industry: Background

Geopolitical Monitor

BACKGROUNDERS - December 24, 2018

By Geopolitical Monitor

SUMMARY

The idea of collective EU defense has been around since the abortive European Defense Community of 1952. Yet over 50 years later, the continent still lacks the shared vision and organizational structures required to turn its oft-cited goal of ‘strategic autonomy’ into a reality. The challenge is compounded by the state of the European defense industry, which is fractured, organized along national lines, riddled with inefficiencies, and largely unable to maintain the extensive manufacturing base necessary to compete with global arms sales giants in the United States and Russia.

Yet the geopolitical shocks of the Ukraine crisis and the Trump presidency have shattered old paradigms, breathing new life into History on a continent that has been happy to ignore security matters since the end of the Cold War. Now the EU has its vision, but can Brussels push through integration in the ever-sensitive security sphere right when populist nationalism is surging across the continent? EU leaders are hoping that by incentivizing voluntary cooperation, they can induce the kind of industrial consolidation that would allow the EU to take greater responsibility for its own defense (and incidentally emerge as a major player in the global arms market).

 

BACKGROUND

Among other players in the global arms trade, the European Union stands out as a unique case as a supranational grouping that has little substantive integration in the defense field. However, three of its largest members – France, Germany, and (for the time being) the United Kingdom – rank in the top six arms exporters in the world from 2013-2017.

Yet when you combine the global market share of these three EU states over the past five years, it equals just 17.3% – well short of Russia’s 22% share and the United States’ 34%. The shortfall is particularly stark given that the combined GDP of the EU three is nearly six times the size of the Russian economy. The combined military budgets of the EU three is more than two times what Russia spends. And though French (5%), British (9.6%), and German (1.6%) defense companies are altogether more represented compared to Russian ones (7.1%) on SIPRI’s list of the world’s top 100 private defense contractors, the United States blows them all away with a staggering 57.9%. Indeed, most of the world’s largest defense companies continue to be found in the United States.

The above disparity stems from the fact that EU companies are at a significant market disadvantage vis-à-vis the United States and Russia, both of which can rely on a combination of government subsidized R&D, advanced industrial consolidation, extensive and reliable foreign buyers, and consistently high military budgets to provide a competitive advantage for their domestic arms companies. Though it’s easy to add the military budgets of EU states together to illustrate a point, the reality of current EU law is that these resources aren’t being pooled to create new efficiencies in procurement or research & development. As a result, EU governments are getting less bang for their buck on defense spending and the EU is punching below its economic weight in the global arms trade.

How inefficient is the current EU military industrial complex? According to the EU’s official statistics, a lack of cooperation between members states costs anywhere between 25 billion to 100 billion euros per year. The industry falls almost exclusively under the purview of national governments, with around 80% of procurement and 90% of R&D being conducted on a strictly national basis (2014 numbers). As a result, the EU is home to over 178 types of weapon systems, compared to 30 in the United States. The armies of EU member states field 17 different types of battle tanks; in the US Army there’s only one type. It’s estimated that by cooperating on defense procurement procedures alone, member states could save up to 30% on their defense budgets.

The numbers suggest that there’s a lot to be gained in terms of continental defense just by targeting the low-hanging fruit of eliminating redundancies and fostering cooperation and consolidation in the European defense complex. Defense integration in the EU is thus a two-track process: realizing the ever-controversial idea of an ‘EU army,’ with all its associated historical and command-and-control headaches, and reducing industrial and bureaucratic inefficiencies, which in theory could dramatically improve national capabilities and, since the EU is the sum of its national parts, continental defense as well.

As examined in the first article in this series, there’s an overarching economic logic to the consolidation of the EU’s defense industry. Like in the United States and elsewhere, war is big business and it employs hundreds of thousands of Europeans up and down the defense supply chain, and in supporting industries as well. According to EU statistics, the continental defense industry was worth $97.3 billion in 2014, employing 500,000 people directly and another 1.2 million in indirect jobs. The industry also involves over 2,500 small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) producingcritically important parts of the defense supply chain; these SMES are mostly concentrated in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

 

The EU Finds Its Political Will

In the elevated threat environment of the Cold War, West German defense spending routinely exceeded the current NATO target of 2% of GDP, peaking at 3.13% of GDP in 1975. When the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, Bonn’s was spending the equivalent of 2.4% of its GDP on defense. But since then spending levels have trended downward, hitting a low point of 1.179% of GDP in 2016. The German case is one of the more extreme examples of a prevalent trend in the EU, that of the post-Cold War peace dividend. With the immediate threat of Soviet aggression removed, European governments stopped prioritizing the security realm and were content to rely on UN and NATO operations for continental defense and peacekeeping. The trend culminated in European leaders taking a backseat to Washington-led efforts to resolve conflicts in the EU’s own backyard, namely the Bosnian war of 1992-1995 and the Kosovo war of 1999.

Two unexpected developments have since shaken EU leaders out of their post-Cold War reverie. First and arguably most important is the 2014 Ukraine crisis which, in Russia’s sudden and apparently lasting annexation of Crimea, demonstrated that territorial acquisition by force (or other oblique means) is still very much a part of the modern foreign policy toolbox. The Ukraine crisis also brought certain uncomfortable truths into sharp relief. Some are old, like the overwhelming numerical superiority of the Russian army vis-à-vis the combined armies of Europe; some are new, like the lack of any credible swift response or deterrence options for Brussels.

The other wake-up call was Donald Trump’s election as US president. Trump has taken a diplomatic hatchet to the transatlantic relationship, savaging relations with the EU on several fronts: trade, climate, the Iran nuclear deal. But most damaging of all has been President Trump’s approach to NATO, which has hitherto formed the backbone of European defense. Trump’s constant haranguing of European leaders to spend more on defense under threat of ­leaving the Transatlantic Alliance could ultimately produce the opposite of their intended effect. By openly questioning the immutability of NATO, Trump has underscored the need for Europeans to take responsibility for their own security. And so far, EU leaders appear eager to rise to the challenge.

 

*This article is the first in a series:

Part 2: The EU Defense Industry: Consolidation toward an ‘EU Army’?

Part 3: The EU Defense Industry: In the Shadow of Brexit

**Originally published on December 11, 2018.

December 30, 2018

Zhores Medvedev's Life: A Chilling Reminder of How the Soviets Weaponized Psychiatry against Dissidents

Zhores Medvedev's Life: A Chilling Reminder of How the Soviets Weaponized Psychiatry against Dissidents

The practice of categorizing one’s enemies as “insane” became a ready tool of suppression in the Soviet state founded by Lenin and developed under Stalin.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Image credit: Unsplash

 

Mark Hendrickson

Politics Soviet Union Communism StalinDissent Torture

The New York Timesobituary opened with a simple recitation of facts: “Zhores A. Medvedev, the Soviet biologist, writer and dissident who was declared insane, confined to a mental institution and stripped of his citizenship in the 1970s after attacking a Stalinist pseudoscience, died … in London.”

Zhores Medvedev, his twin brother Roy (still alive at 93), the physicist Andrei Sakharov, and the Nobel Prize-winning novelist Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn were leading dissidents. They courageously put their lives on the line to smuggle manuscripts out of the Soviet Union. They wanted the wider world to learn the truth about the “the workers’ paradise” that so many Western intellectuals (some deluded, others having gone over to the dark side) praised.

Declare Dissidents Insane

One Soviet technique of oppression was to declare that political dissidents were insane. They were then incarcerated in psychiatric hospitals where they were tormented and tortured.

A generation of Americans has been born since the Soviet Union, the USSR that President Ronald Reagan boldly labeled “the evil empire,” ceased to exist. They have little to no concept of how ferociously the USSR’s communist tyranny suppressed dissent. As the Times obituary of Dr. Medvedev illustrates, one Soviet technique of oppression was to declare that political dissidents were insane. They were then incarcerated in psychiatric hospitals where they were tormented and tortured. Some were used as human guinea pigs for dangerous experiments. (Shades of Hitler’s buddy, Dr. Mengele.) Some even succumbed to the not-so-tender ministrations of those “hospitals.”

I recall one particular example of the disgusting abuse of human beings in Soviet psychiatric hospitals. Vladimir Bukovsky, who will turn 76 later this month, spent a dozen years being shuffled between Soviet jails, labor camps, and psychiatric hospitals. One of the “therapies” administered in a psychiatric hospital was putting a cord into Bukovsky’s mouth, threading it from his throat up through his nasal passages, and then drawing it out through one of his nostrils. (Maybe the cord went in the opposite direction; I’ve never been interested in memorizing torture techniques.) Alas, this communist “treatment” did not “cure” Bukovsky of his rational (not irrational) abhorrence of tyranny and brutality.

Marx's Influence on the Soviets

The warped thought process that led to the perversion and weaponization of psychiatry in the Soviet Union can be traced back to the communist icon and thought leader Karl Marx. Marx propounded a spurious doctrine known as “polylogism” to justify stifling dissent. According to Marx, different classes of people had different structures in their minds. Thus, Marx declared the bourgeoisie to be mentally defective because they were inherently unable to comprehend Marx’s (allegedly) revelatory and progressive theories. Since they were, in a sense, insane, there was no valid reason for communists to “waste time” arguing with them. On the contrary, communists were justified in not only ignoring or suppressing bourgeois ideas but in liquidating the entire bourgeois class.

The USSR’s infamous secret police energetically wielded quack psychiatry as a club with which to destroy political dissidents. 

The practice of categorizing one’s enemies as “insane” became a ready tool of suppression in the Soviet state founded by Lenin and developed under Stalin. The USSR’s infamous secret police energetically wielded quack psychiatry as a club with which to destroy political dissidents. If you want more information about how the Soviets kidnapped and misused psychiatry, here is a link to a document that describes what American agents of the USSR were taught about psycho-political techniques in the late 1930s. (The provenance of the booklet is murky, and Soviet apologists have long tried to discredit it, but in light of numerous psychiatric abuses known to have been committed with the approval of the USSR’s rulers, the content of the book is highly plausible.)

The incarceration of Zhores Medvedev in psychiatric hospitals in the 1970s was a monstrous injustice. His “crime” was having exposed the bizarre pseudoscience of  Lysenkoism that Stalin had embraced in the 1950s. Lysenko’s quack theories led to deadly crop failures and widespread starvation. Nevertheless, Stalin backed him by executing scientists who dared to disagree with Lysenko. Millions of innocents lost their lives because “truth” in the Soviet Union wasn’t scientific but political.

Another vivid example of the destructive consequences of politicizing truth is related in Solzhenitsyn’s exposé of Soviet labor camps, The Gulag Archipelago. Certain Soviet officials decided to increase the steel shipped to a certain area. When the planners issued orders for trains to carry double the steel to the designated destination, conscientious engineers informed them that it couldn’t be done. They pointed out that the existing train tracks could not support such great weights. The politicians had the engineers executed as “saboteurs” for opposing “the plan.” What followed was predictable: the loads were doubled, the tracks gave out, and the designated area ended up getting less steel, not more.

As the havoc wrought by Soviet central economic planners repeatedly demonstrated, the communist central planners refused to abandon their insufferable self-delusion and mystical belief in the power of their own will to alter reality.

This episode shows where the true insanity was in the USSR. The central planners believed that constructing their ideal country was simply a matter of will. Alas, reality doesn’t conform to the whims or will of any human being, but the arrogance of central planners remains stubbornly impervious to that inescapable fact of life. Instead, as the havoc wrought by Soviet central economic planners repeatedly demonstrated, the communist central planners refused to abandon their insufferable self-delusion and mystical belief in the power of their own will to alter reality. This was the true insanity, compounded by the error of persecuting competent scientists like Zhores Medvedev.

Sadly, the practice of branding political opponents as “insane” is not confined to the now-defunct Soviet state. In 1981, when I was completing my master’s thesis on Solzhenitsyn, I telephoned an American college professor of history to ask whether he recalled if Solzhenitsyn had been granted honorary US citizenship. (He hadn’t. President Ford didn’t want to offend the Soviet leadership.) The reply to my question was this: “Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn belongs in an insane asylum.” The virus of Marx’s polylogism is, unfortunately, alive and well in American academia.

As for Zhores Medvedev, may he now rest in peace and receive his reward for his integrity and courage.

This article was reprinted from the Mises Institute.


https://fee.org/articles/zhores-medvedevs-life-a-chilling-reminder-of-how-the-soviets-weaponized-psychiatry-against-dissidents/

Israel, Greece, and Cyprus Join Hands in Beersheba


By Dr. George N. TzogopoulosDecember 28, 2018

Benjamin Netanyahu, Nicos Anastasiades, and Alexis Tsipras at Beersheva Summit; screenshot of video from Facebook page of the Prime Minister of Israel

BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 1,049, December 28, 2018

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Israel, Greece, and Cyprus are building a democratic bloc in the eastern Mediterranean. The Beersheba trilateral summit highlighted the strong momentum of this initiative, as well as American institutional support for it. Jerusalem, Athens, and Nicosia are expanding their collaboration in fields including defense, cyberspace, energy, and education. The potential construction of an East Med pipeline could be a flagship project contributing to security and prosperity in Europe and the Middle East.

Israel, Greece, and Cyprus are steadily strengthening their partnership in the eastern Mediterranean, with institutional dialogue organized in the form of tripartite summits. Five such meetings have already taken place – the most recent in Beersheba – and the sixth will be held in February 2019 on the island of Crete. In Beersheba, PMs Benjamin Netanyahu and Alexis Tsipras and President Nicos Anastasiades agreed to establish a permanent secretariat to be based in Nicosia. The three countries will also collaborate, inter alia, on cybersecurity, smart cities, innovation with emphasis on supporting young entrepreneurs, education, environmental protection, research on agriculture, meteorology, health, and tourism.

On the economic front, the Beersheba summit was preceded by the first trilateral business forum, which took place in Tel Aviv. Relevant chambers of commerce are expected to further engage the business communities of the three countries. The potential here is enormous. Israeli foreign direct investments in Greece, for instance, remain relatively low, amounting to €26.7 million in 2016 and €32 million in 2017. But the ongoing interest of Israeli companies in the real estate sector, hotels, and the food industry in Greece can lead to an increase in the future. Similarly, some Greek companies are seeking to increase their exports to Israel or invest in the energy sector. Recently, for example, Energean Oil & Gas announced the signing of a memorandum of understandingwith Israel Natural Gas Lines regarding constructing and transferring the onshore and near shore part of natural gas facilities for the Karish and Tanin developments.

The Beersheba summit was significant for another reason: It was the first time the US participated in and publicly expressed support for the initiative. US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said a few words on behalf of President Donald Trump, adding gravitas to the trilateral collaboration scheme. He called the partnership “an anchor of stability in the eastern Mediterranean” and spoke about the importance of the East Med pipeline project, which will “help diversify energy sources throughout the entire region…help bring energy security to Europe, [and contribute to] the stability and prosperity of the Middle East and Europe.”

The process has not always been harmonious. Turkish policy in the eastern Mediterranean is creating obstacles. In the Beersheba summit statement, Netanyahu, Tsipras, and Anastasiades reiterated their full support and solidarity with Cyprus in exercising its sovereign rights in its exclusive economic zone. Until now, Washington has preferred to publicly adopt a stance of equal distance between Athens/Nicosia and Ankara.  A recent interview with US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Wess Mitchell might, however, signal the beginning of a change in that approach. Talking to the Kathimerini newspaper, Mitchell encouraged Cyprus to develop its resources, characterized Turkey’s view as “a minority of one versus the rest of the world,” and expressed his country’s opposition to any kind of harassment in Cypriot waters. While this message is important, it remains to be seen how Washington will react in the blocs of the Cypriot exclusive economic zone where US ships are not involved in drilling.

The construction of the East Med pipeline with America’s blessing would benefit the democratic bloc of Israel, Greece, and Cyprus and cancel plans for the transportation of natural gas from the Levantine Basin to Europe via Turkey. The US may well wish to warn or even punish Turkey for its expansion of its military cooperation with Russia (for example, Ankara’s deal with Moscow for the supply of S-400 missiles). But while the bilateral relationship with Turkey is vexing, Washington still counts on it.

The Department of State recently notified Congress of a proposal to sell the Patriot air and missile defense system to Ankara, which might be an attempt to halt the S-400 purchase. More importantly, the withdrawal of American troops from Syria means better coordination will now be required between Washington and Ankara. According to media reports, Trump has accepted an invitation from Erdoğan to visit Ankara in 2019.

While Washington is endeavoring to find a modus vivendi with Ankara, it still values its allies in the eastern Mediterranean and southeastern Europe. The fundamental strength of American-Israeli relations is largely taken for granted, and this is slowly becoming true for American-Cypriot-relations and American-Greek relations as well.

Russia is a catalyst in that process. The US and Cyprus are improving their bilateral relationship, a step Moscow is not prepared to handle. In November 2018, Washington and Nicosia signed a statement of intent on security affairs, prompting Moscow to react fiercely against what it sees as a US plan to militarize Cyprus. And in December 2018, the inaugural strategic dialogue between the US and Greece was launched. Among other things, Greece is supporting the enlargement of NATO in the Balkans, as the Prespes Agreement paves the way for the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to join it. Moscow made very clear that it objects to the deal reached between the governments of Athens and Skopje (FYROM) last June.

While the Israeli-Greek-Cypriot institutionalized dialogue is yielding initial results and creating a strong basis for cooperation in the long term, further grassroots mobilization is necessary. Unacceptable acts such as the frequent vandalism of the Thessaloniki Holocaust Memorial do not align with Israel’s improving image in Greece and Cyprus and are a warning signal. A nexus of collaboration between the communities of the three countries – with the participation of representatives of several sectors, including media and culture – will certainly contribute to better understanding. The respective diaspora communities, as the Beersheba summit statement illustrated, will provide more assistance and depth.

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Dr George N. Tzogopoulos is a BESA Research Associate, Lecturer at the Democritus University of Thrace, and Visiting Lecturer at the European Institute of Nice.



https://besacenter.org/perspectives-papers/israel-greece-cyprus-beersheba/

Africa’s Economic Development Is Impeded by Corruption and Populism

Fee.org


Despite continued support, African governments have been very obstinate in their generally misguided development policies.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Image Credit: Max Pixel

 

Jorge C. Carrasco

In March 1957, Kwame Nkrumahproclaimed the independence of the British Gold Coast, changing its name to Ghana. Nkrumah was a peculiar person. Trained at British and American universities, he was convinced of two things. The first was that only independence would allow African peoples to overcome their secular backwardness. The second was that in order to achieve it, the ideal vehicle was a sort of African socialism that he called consciencism.

As soon as he came to power, he adopted the title of "Osagyefo" (the redeemer), changed the name of the country to Ghana, which in Akan means "warrior king," and secured absolute power. Nkrumah was a charlatan devoured by narcissism. Although he did not sympathize with even half of his fellow citizens, who spoke dialects different from that of his native ethnicity, he believed the entire African continent should be united under a single flag.

In the West, Nkrumah was very popular. Kings and presidents celebrated him at receptions and enjoyed his company. It could not be less with a man so charismatic that in his speeches he claimed to have the infallible remedy "against poverty and disease."

He didn't end up with either of the two scourges. Nkrumah became a brutal dictator who, supported by the Soviets, authoritatively planned his country's economy with disastrous results. Ten years after Ghana attained independence, one of the most prosperous British overseas colonies had become visibly impoverished and associated with militarism.

The sad history of Ghana was repeated in each and every country south of the Sahara. With some honorable exceptions, such as Botswana, none of the former European colonies have managed not only to develop but also to ostensibly improve their situation. While countries in other parts of the world, especially in the Far East, have grown significantly and even joined the first world, black Africa remains as poor or poorer than when it gained independence.

The cold data leaves little room for interpretation. Africa's GDP is 70 percent lower than Asia’s and 80 percent lower than that of Latin America. Many reasons have been given to explain Africa's stubborn backwardness. It has been said that they cannot develop because they were colonies, and neocolonialism prevents them from doing so. But Vietnam was a colony, for example, and also had to suffer twenty years of civil war. Today, however, it is a country whose economy is growing and to whom the future smiles.

The truth is that the world has not marginalized Africa; it has opened up its markets to it and given it financial means so that, properly managed, it can develop.

Poverty has been blamed on a lack of infrastructure and human capital. No poor country has good infrastructure before it emerges from poverty. Infrastructure is financed by prosperity and, with respect to human capital, the West has earmarked billions of dollars in vocational training programs to prepare local workers.

African politicians often blame the rest of the world, either because it does not open its borders to African products or because it opens them too wide, and Western products flood its markets. The truth is that the world has not marginalized Africa; it has opened up its markets to it and given it financial means so that, properly managed, it can develop.

Both the United States and the European Union have given preferential access to African products and have not spared aid of all kinds and technological transfers. The African Development Bank, financed by the United States and Europe, has allocated $50 billion in credit operations to the continent since 1980. In 2016 alone, the European Union injected 21 billion euros into African countries, to which must be added another 1.6 billion in educational programs. That’s twice the Marshall Plan in just one year.

Despite this continued support, African governments have been very obstinate in their generally misguided and always opaque development policies. They have done exactly the opposite of what should have been done.  Although Africans work very hard, they are still very unproductive, which is not surprising given the low capitalization of those economies and the string of regulations with which their governments embellish them.

According to a report from the Brookings Institution, Nigeria has already overtaken India in the number of people living in extreme poverty (people who live on less than $1.90 a day), with at least 87 million people in this circumstances in comparison to the 70.6 million in India.

Doing business south of the Sahara is heroic. Opening a business in almost any African country is an uncertain, lengthy, and costly process that often ends in countless bribes. Anyone who crosses through Africa knows it. Traveling across the continent means encountering police posts every few kilometers that check visas and claim their tips in countries with almost no rule of law. If that happens to a motorcycle adventurer, what won't happen to an investor who wants to set up a food processing plant?

All these obstacles to the creation of wealth were not imposed by the former colonial powers but by the governments that arrived later. The main cause of Africa's chronic poverty has been an endless chain of bad decisions made by its leaders over the past half-century.

The continent's proverbial natural wealth has been of no use. Everything has been squandered. For example, since it achieved independence in 1961, Nigeria has earned more than half a trillion dollars from the sale of oil—the coveted Bonny Light oil—which is extracted from the Niger River Delta deposits, a natural wealth that would have allowed this nation to take off like so many other countries in the past that started their developing paths selling commodities. But sadly, that is not the case. According to  a report from the Brookings Institution, Nigeria has already overtaken India in the number of people living in extreme poverty (people who live on less than $1.90 a day), with at least 87 million people in these circumstances in comparison to the 70.6 million in India.

In his book Resource Abundance and Economic Development, Richard M. Auty, professor of economic geography at Lancaster University, emphasizes that the presence of natural resources in large quantities does not predestine a country to prosperity.

The logic of some seems to predict that if a country has an abundance of natural resources, it should show high levels of development. However, as counterintuitive as it may seem, the performance of a large number of countries abundant in these commodities does not support this hypothesis, and Nigeria is no exception.

In his book Resource Abundance and Economic Development, Richard M. Auty, professor of economic geography at Lancaster University, emphasizes that the presence of natural resources in large quantities does not predestine a country to prosperity. Referring to what he describes as the “resource curse or "paradox of plenty," he argues that countries with a large abundance of these commodities (such as fossil fuels and certain minerals) tend to have less economic growth, less democracy, and worse development outcomes than countries with fewer natural resources. According to his study, this problem generally tends to radicate in economic decisions regarding the use of revenues from extraction and commercialization of these natural resources. Auty explains that the abundance of revenues from these businesses in undeveloped nations tends to make it easier for politicians and bureaucratic authorities to waste them on unprofitable investments and conspicuous expenditures, which very often leads to corruption. This "voracity effect," as Auty calls it, almost always ends by causing stagnation in growth through the misuse and abuse of public funds.

Perhaps the unresolved issue for Africans is to open up their economies, embrace globalization, secure the legal framework for investment to flow with guarantees, and establish a genuine rule of law where it is the law that rules—not populism.

In some instances, the African landscape is so bleak it seems impossible that this unfortunate group of countries could ever develop and break the vicious cycle of poverty. While Asian and Latin American countries are gradually abandoning underdevelopment (the former faster than the latter), African politicians have fertilized the region with perpetual backwardness.

But that won't last forever, and the continent is changing drastically. Poverty in Africa is a global problem that will have to be solved in the coming decades. But sadly, there is a lot of work to be done. Nkrumah-style African socialism failed miserably, as did the mercantilism sponsored by the region's dictators and bureaucrats over the past twenty years, which has only enriched the elites and chronicled corruption, nepotism, and wars for control of the state apparatus all over the continent.

Of course, the roots of African poverty are probably deeper than what is addressed in this article, but maybe it remains to be proven what catapulted countries like South Korea or Taiwan, which were solemnly poor in the 1950s, into the first world. Perhaps the unresolved issue for Africans is to open up their economies, embrace globalization, secure the legal framework for investment to flow with guarantees, and establish a genuine rule of law where it is the law that rules—not populism.

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Jorge C. Carrasco

Jorge C. Carrasco is a Cuban independent journalist and a coordinator of Students For Liberty.