The End of the Road

It’s official: my career as a teacher has ended. It spanned 45 years during which I taught in Jerusalem, Haifa, Beersheba, Tel Aviv, Washington DC, Quantico VA, and Geneva. I taught both Israelis and foreigners, both civilians and soldiers. Here it pleases me to put on some of my experiences on record.

I always enjoyed teaching. Unlike some of my colleagues I never saw it either as largely irrelevant to my main work or as a burden. To the contrary, I always looked at it as an opportunity to interact with others, listen to what they had to say, and, from time to time, learn something important from them. As happened, for example, many years ago when a young female student opened my eyes to the fact that Sun Tzu’s famous Art of War is a Daoist text, causing me to totally rethink what it had to say. On another occasion another young woman asked me how I (like most Israelis) “knew” that most Jordanians are actually Palestinians, thereby forcing me to think it over. On yet another occasion a young man opened my eyes to the fact that women would only gain equality if and when they dropped their preference for hypergamy and started marrying dropouts. So let me take this opportunity to thank them, and my students in general, for everything they have taught me over the years.

Following from the above, I think that the seminar, or workshop as we at Hebrew University used to call those we offered first year students, are the most useful courses of all. Much more so than lectures in which students are merely passive listeners and in which feedback is necessarily very limited. Let there be no mistake: preparing lecture may be a most useful thing for professors to do. As has been said, the best way to master a field or subject is to teach it. Students, though, will not benefit nearly as much.

To be effective a seminar has to be neither too large not to be small. The minimum number of students present is around five, or else there will be insufficient room for discussion. The maximum is probably around twenty. The ideal, I think, is twelve. Jesus, it seems, knew what he was doing.

Meetings should start with presentations by students. The presentations should be presented according to a program, fixed in advance. Ideally each student, to benefit from his or her experience, should have at least two opportunities to present. Unfortunately, the way most seminars are constructed this is not the way things happen.

In conducting a seminar, the most difficult thing is to make students prepare. In my experience, as well as that of my colleagues, only a minority do. So what to do? You can, of course start each meeting by questioning some of them. Doing so, however, is largely a waste of time and can be humiliating to the students themselves. I am afraid that I only hit on the solution a few years ago: namely, to have them prepare questions about the material and use email to send them, in advance, to the student who is going to present next. With a copy to me, as the instructor. This method obliged me to read each student’s questions and reply to them very briefly. Quite some work, but worth it.

It is vital that students should treat each other with respect. I always told them that they could say anything about anyone or anything outside the classroom. Alive or dead. But that I would insist on them speaking to and about each other the way courteous people do.

That said, the best meetings were sometimes the noisiest. Let me give you an example. Years and years ago we were discussing Karl Marx. It was one of those occasions, which I tolerated and even encouraged up to a point, when students got so excited that everyone was shouting at each other. Suddenly a window opened, a young woman dropped in (the campus on Mount Scopus, Jerusalem, had some odd places where you could do that, technically speaking) and asked us to keep our voices down because, in the class next door, they could not hear each other. Having finished laughing, we gladly obliged.

Students can be misleading. The most extreme example was Yuval Harari. When he first studied with me some twenty years ago he never opened his mouth during the entire 26 meetings that the course, whose topic was modern strategy, lasted. I hope he will forgive me for saying that I did not know what to make of him and thought he was completely autistic. In my defense I can only say that, no sooner had I seen his seminar paper, which dealt with command in the middle ages, then I realized the guy was a genius. By now, of course, he is world famous.

I always treated male and female students exactly the same. Doing so was in line with the kind of education we young Israelis received during the 1950s and 1960s, which in some ways was the most egalitarian in the world. It is my experience, though, that 1. In mixed classes, female students do not take nearly as lively a part in discussion as male ones do; and 2. That the most interested students, meaning those who sought me out in my office or wrote to me not just to ask for a deferment of this or that but to discuss all kinds of issues, are almost always male.

Let me conclude with a final point. Following in the footsteps of my reverend teacher, Prof. Alexander Fuks (see, on him, my post for 1.10.2014) I have always felt that teacher and students should work together to find out the truth as far as possible. Or else, why bother? To do this, absolute freedom of speech is needed. Even if it means the right to take up unpopular positions and follow them to wherever they may lead; particularly if it means the right to take up unpopular positions and follow them to wherever they may lead.

It therefore came as a surprise, and a most unwelcome one, to find that many students no longer share this idea. Instead, they regard the classroom as a place where their opinions, or perhaps I should say prejudices, should not be questioned. Any teacher who brings up a topic the local crybullies find “offensive,” as for example by daring to discuss nudity (as a young colleague of mine did) or suggesting that women, far from being oppressed, are privileged in many ways (as I did) is putting his or her head on the block. In several of the universities where I taught the outcome was likely to be a complaint. One which, having been launched, would almost certainly be backed by administrators who know only too well on which side their bread is buttered.

So farewell you students, the good as well as the bad. And shame on many of you, universities, for your cowardice in betraying your sacred mission: namely, to protect freedom of thought at all cost.

Jaeger

12Jaeger: At War with Denmark’s Elite Special Forces, is a book by former special forces soldier Thomas Rathsack. Originally it was published in Denmark where it was a best seller and is said to have inspired many youngsters to volunteer for the military; since 2015 it has been available in English too.

The book starts with a brief autobiographical sketch of the author’s life before he enlisted in the Danish special forces. Next, it describes the truly grueling training he and his comrades received; including insane physical effort and culminating in parachute jumps from 30,000 feet. Next, it outlines some of the action the author saw in uncongenial places such as Afghanistan and Iraq. It concludes with the half-hearted attempts, and ultimately futile, attempts of the Danish military to try the author for allegedly having revealed all kinds of secrets.

While no literary masterpiece, the book is very impressive. I was especially interested in what made a young man decide on such a career, perhaps the toughest and most dangerous on earth; and one, moreover, which leaves those who embark on it with no time for anything else. As Rathsack says, repeatedly, it was the desire to test himself that made him tick. To the utmost, again and again and again. No surprise here, really, since the same has been true since at least the time of Homer on.

But what really caught my eye, and my mind, was something else. Let me use the author’s own words, as far as possible, to describe it:

“American drones—MQ-1 Predators—had over the past week kept a watchful eye on the… regions in the mountainous provinces” along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. “Their drones had captured pictures of Taliban and al-Qaeda members crossing the border… However, the unstable weather conditions of the late winter had made the Predator less effective. Task Force K Bar was therefore assigned the task of observing activities in the area. Fortunately for us, this meant boots on the ground…”

“We would be inserted by helicopter at night flying over hills, mountains and valleys, through areas swarming with armed enemies… The operation was expected to span 10 days,” which meant that each of them would have to carry up to 180 pounds, including water. Preparations included gathering and compiling intelligence: “We needed information about wind, light, rainfall and temperature. We needed to know where the enemy was expected to be, whether they were armed and organized, and what their morale was. And finally we’d need information about whether the local population was friendly or hostile, and where the nearest town or settlement was located… Advanced computer programs provided us with information about the altitude and gradient of the mountains. We sought out the best places from which to observe the villages and the tracks we were interested in…”

“The landing zone couldn’t be too close to our observation base, since the enormous CH-47 helicopter taking us in was extraordinarily loud.” Communications, medical equipment, and plans for enabling the team to be extracted in case things went wrong had to be prepared. “We were privileged in that the pilots who flew us in were the best in the world.” In support would be jet fighters and “the awesome American flying fortress, the AC-130 Gunship, which carries a whole arsenal of weaponry systems.” All this, so just five men could be landed on a mountain 250 miles from base.

“I was in the best company possible—with some of the world’s top soldiers.” Once the team had been flown in and were on the ground, “we quickly secured our position for all angles. A deafening silence set in. Not a sound in the night… It was as if we had found ourselves in a vacuum… Getting away from the landing zone as fast as possible was crucial The Chinook had probably been heard in the villages a few miles away. That meant Al Qaeda and Taliban forces would be aware of special forces in the area.”

The men spent the rest of the night marching to their predesignated observation post. Given the altitude (9,000 feet), the terrain, and the loads they carried doing so required an almost superhuman effort. On one side were a handful of the world’s best soldiers, trained at great expense for years on end until they became perfect killing machines. Backing them up were entire forests of machines some of which, such as the F-16 fighter bombers AC-130 gunships (which, however, being slow and vulnerable, were only allowed to operate by night) cost tens of millions of dollars each. And what were they after? “The village beneath me consisted of 14-15 single family houses, all made of clay and enclosed behind the concrete walls that nearly all Afghan houses had… The only sign of life was a herd of goats, bound to a tree in the western part of the village… just after 9 A.M two men stepped out of one of the bigger buildings in the village. They were dressed in loose, brown robes, and walked slowly to the small grove of trees where the goats were tied up. They sat in the shade, leaning up against a tree and began conversing. I noted it in the logbook It was the only activity on this watch.”

A few nights later, payoff! “I froze at what I saw through the scope. A group of men were walking along a trail from one of the values south of the village. I counted 12, all armed with Kalashnikovs…. The group was clearly on its way across the border from Pakistan.”

Not long thereafter the commandos were discovered. Whether by accident or because the opponent, alerted by the helicopter’s noise, had noted their presence and was actively looking for them is not clear. Probably the latter, since the village appeared to be abnormally quiet. Thus another operation had to be prepared to get the commandos out before they were overrun and the survivors, if any, put to death in any number of interesting ways. This time, in addition to a Chinook and F-16s on standby, 30 soldiers from the American 10th Mountain Division (plus at least one helicopter to carry them) and an Advance Warning and Control System (AWACS) costing perhaps $ 200,000,000 were involved.

All this, I could not help but wonder, only to observe a handful of bearded men issuing from clay huts while armed with locally made assault rifles? And only to end up by failing to achieve anything?

PS: Those of you who have not seen the following link showing US male and female Marine on training, do yourself a favor and take a look. http://i.imgur.com/t3CF25z.gif.

Dreams

My wife is planning some changes in our house. Not just minor ones, but of the kind that will require demolishing half of it and will make it temporarily unlivable—the more so because, unlike modern American homes, it is made not of wood and cardboard but of reinforced concrete. Preparing for the builders, she has decided to deal with the accumulated rubbish of three decades. Collecting it, sorting it, putting it into plastic bags, and making me schlep it out to the place it belongs. It is the kind of work she likes and with which I, addicted to writing as I am, nilly-willy go along.

Her efforts were rewarded. On the way she stumbled on an essay I produced when I was fourteen years old. This was the spring of 1960. Just before I graduated from the eighth and final class of “Yahalom” (Diamond) elementary school which I then attended in my hometown of Ramat Gan, not far from Tel Aviv. Consisting of 400 words, it is written with the aid of one of those fountain pens I have always favored, in Hebrew, and in longhand. Apparently it was composed in one go, off the cuff, without errors or corrections. Proof, that, of a kind of self-confidence which, fifty-six years later, I no longer have; nowadays correcting often takes as long as, or longer than, writing, as it does in this case too. The essay must have been preserved by my mother, now dead.

The topic, apparently set by the teacher, was: “A Historical Age in Which I Would Like to Live.” I started my essay by making the rather philosophical observation that there was no good without evil and no evil without good. That, I said, applied to every field, historical periods included. History could be divided into three parts: ancient, medieval, and modern. Antiquity had been a time of “enormous achievements,” including writing, agriculture, and many kinds of art. The middle ages had witnessed a “general collapse” in all these fields, including art, trade, science, and culture. However, in 1492 progress resumed. Once again, the outcome was “enormous achievements” such as democracy. Again growing philosophical, I gave it as my young opinion that “every age has its advantages and disadvantages, but all have this in common that the advantages were greater than the disadvantages.”

“If there is a period in which I would like to live apart from what we call our own,” I went on, it is “the remote future.” In that future –

The world will reach an ideal state. All states will cease to exist, or at any rate abolish their frontiers and tariff-walls. All places on earth will be linked by scientific, cultural, commercial, and artistic ties. Armed forces, which today number millions of people, will completely disappear. Wars having come to an end, they will no longer be needed. As people come to obey the law without having to be coerced, even police forces will become more or less superfluous. In this future, remote though it is, class differences will disappear. The only way people for people to climb the social ladder will be by means of personal talent and knowledge. And even that ladder will not be material, as is the case today, but spiritual. Science, in its many forms, will govern the world. Everyone will recognize its power and will provide it with the wherewithal to make further progress. It will provide us with everything. Free us from our dependence on the weather and the earth’s orbit around the sun; [and] enable us to contact alien civilizations (supposing such civilizations exist or will exist) from which we shall be able to learn more than we could ever do on our own. Generally speaking, life will be ideal, similar to that envisaged by the prophets of our people.

I would like to live in that world because of the absolute equality and freedom on which it will be based. And also because of the material and spiritual wealth it will provide… Who knows? Perhaps this age will come one day.

I distinctly remember where I got my ideas about alien civilizations. It was Arthur C. Clark, Prelude to Space (1951), which had been translated into Hebrew and which I read several times. Looking back, I find that parts of it were truly prophetic, others pure rubbish. The words about the prophets of our people must have come from the Old Testament classes we took and to which I still owe most of such knowledge of it I possess.

As to the rest, I have no idea. Clearly, though, I was already taking a strong interest in what was to become my lifelong occupation: to wit, history in all its tremendous variety. Was my essay simply an expression of childish innocence? Did it reflect the “go-go” 1960s which, ere the Vietnam War took the fun out of them, may well have been the most optimistic, most hopeful, period in the whole of human history? Was it an outgrowth of what, now that I think about it, must have been excellent teaching indeed? Or all of these?

My teacher, bless her, whose name I can no longer recall, did not think any of these things. Near the end of the essay she wrote: “interesting and intelligent—but, ‘much to my regret,’ [apostrophes in the original] beside the point.”

Scholars, Journalists, Spies

spiesHere is a story I heard many years ago. On one occasion, someone asked US President Lyndon Johnson how important the various intelligence services—of which the US has plenty and to spare—were to his job. His response? I never got anything from the hush-hush crowd that I could not read next day on the pages of the New York Times. And there is a reason for that, Johnson is supposed to have added. Intelligence people are experts in gathering information. Journalists are also experts in gathering information. The difference is that the journalists are usually better.

The story may or may not be true. Assuming it is, Johnson may have meant what he said. Or else he may have been deliberately downplaying the role of secret intelligence so as to conceal the fact that he knew more; after all, dissimulation is said to have been one of his outstanding qualities. I can think of several other interpretations. No matter. Presumably we shall never know.

Why this story? Because, a couple of weeks ago, I was privileged to hold a public lecture here in Jerusalem. My topic was, “Where did the Iranian Threat Go?” A riddle indeed, considering the number of times Prime Minister Netanyahu referred to the issue; not to mention his repeated threats to bomb Iran so as to prevent it from building a bomb.

I took the occasion to argue, as I have often done on this site among other places, that the Iranian nuclear threat to my country was largely a myth. As I spoke, I did not have to wait for the Q&A to know what my audience was thinking—I have been through it so many times before. Do you, as a scholar, have access to secret intelligence? No, I do not (nor am I sure I would like to; such access creates its own constraints). If so, how do you know what you claim to know? Good question, that: and one which I want to address here.

Point No. 1. I do not claim to know nearly as much as the intelligence services about how many centrifuges Iran has, where they are located, by how many meters of concrete they are protected, how much enriched uranium they have produced, etc. Here I am largely dependent on the journalists, who themselves derive much of their information from the spies, who almost always have their own agenda in mind in releasing it at the time, and in the form, they do.

Point No. 2. Information of the kind just referred to, however accurate, is meaningless on its own. To understand its significance it is first necessary to answer much broader questions. Such as the roots of Iran’s behavior; its objectives; and its constraints. Briefly, its national strategy and the role its nuclear program is playing within that strategy. When it comes to these problems, the information at the disposal of scholars is often quite as good as, if not better than, that of the spies or, for that matter, the journalists.

Point No. 3. When it comes to still broader questions, such as the impact of nuclear weapons on international relations, the history deterrence and of proliferation, and so on, scholars may well be better informed than either spies or journalists. The reason being that members of these professions are unlikely to have the leisure to look into such problems as thoroughly as they should.

Point No. 4. Spies and the agencies for which they work often come under political pressure to tell decision-makers what they want to hear. An outstanding, indeed outrageous, example was provided by the attempts of the Clinton and Bush administrations to “prove” the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. What things did they not do, what stories did they not invent! Such as mobile laboratories for manufacturing germs, and God knows what else. I once had the pleasure of spending an hour with Hans Blix, the UN commissioner who headed the team appointed to find those weapons. He told me, as he has told others, how the Americans did it. Scholars, working in an academic environment, are much less likely to come under pressures of this kind.

Briefly, spies have their advantages. For any government, military, and even large corporation they are a must. But they cannot operate on their own. To some extent, this is recognized by the intelligence services themselves. Or why else recruit, train and use “analysts” as well as “collectors”?

I myself have some experience with this. Time upon time over the years, I have had meetings with intelligence people and journalists from all over the world. Quite a few visited my hometown near Jerusalem specifically in order to discuss various issues with me. Including events in countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq. Time upon time, I expressed my surprise at the fact that they, who had been to those countries, came to see me, who had not. The answer I got was always the same: by adding context, you can explain to us what we have seen, heard, and experienced.

To which I can only say, Amen.

A Visit to Seoul

lotte-hotel-seoul-5-star-hotel-in-myeongdong-seoul-1-638A week ago on Thursday I was in Seoul. Owing to the North Korean missile tests some meetings I was supposed to attend were cancelled, as was a visit to the Demilitarized Zone. Damn! So I had a little time on my hands. For those of you who are curious, here are a few impressions. Remember, though, that they are more or less limited to the city’s central business district.

  • Service at the airport is polite, fast and efficient. On the way back I saw none of the gigantic security-occasioned queues you often meet in US international airports in particular. Bus service to town is good and reasonably priced.
  • My hotel, The Lotte, is reputed to be the best in Korea. Clean, posh, with very good service. The buffet is famous. Though a bit expensive, of course. Which made me wonder how come  so many guests are young. My one complaint is that there is no lobby where one can sit comfortably and meet a guest. Unless one pays, of course.
  • In China, hotels in this class often have a so-called KTV, meaning a brothel, built in. Here they don’t. The Seoul Lotte does, however, have a “ladies’ floor” where men are not allowed. I doubt that I missed much.
  • Down in the basement there is an arcade, quite posh. Aimed mainly at affluent young women who spend lots of money on designer dresses, shoes, accessories and jewelry. Gosh.
  • Both in the arcade and in the hotel, many of the young women who work there spend their entire time standing up. The idea that doing so is bad for one’s knees does not seem to have occurred to anyone. Strange, that.
  • Outside, the air is quite polluted. You hardly get into the street before you start feeling the acidity in your throat. Some people wear face masks. But not many. I would hate to raise children in such air.
  • An Israeli friend of mine, who is married to a Korean lady, has lived here for many years, and speaks Korean, assures me that this is a safe city. He himself, leaving his seat in a restaurant, leaves his bag behind. No one will take it, he says. Great.
  • They like it if you, a foreigner, speak Korean. Not enough people do. Including myself, of course.
  • Koreans are, on the average, probably as tall as Israelis. But smaller than West Europeans or Americans. If there are obese people like those you see in the US I did not see them. Koreans have lighter skins than Chinese, which makes it relatively easy to tell them apart.
  • Young Korean women are stunning. Many have sweet faces. Small breasts, but well-shaped asses and legs. Among them the shift back from pants to skirts (or shorts) is well under way. Makes them look even better.
  • Most cars are Korean made. Surprisingly few Toyotas and Nissans. Here and there, an expensive Mercedes or BMW. But few if any other, cheaper, Western models. Chinese cars, mainly the large, more expensive models, are beginning to multiply. Cars are clean and show few scratches or dents. What a difference from Israel, where a visiting friend of mine at first thought there was a law against keeping cars in good shape and cleaning them.
  • Even a short-time visitor can see that this, at bottom, is a Confucian society. What makes it tick is deference; the boss is always right. Perhaps that is why, at the conference which I attended as the keynote speaker, there was hardly any Q&A.
  • My friend tells me that the Koreans are the Protestants of the Far East. Tough and extremely hard working. So much so that the Chinese regard them as madmen.
  • He also says that feminism, long practically nonexistent, is becoming stronger. A very low fertility rate, 1.2 or 1.3 per woman, is already in place. Is this country going to follow some others in committing national suicide?
  • I visited a Buddhist temple. A loudspeaker was intoning prayers with the same tune repeated time and again. Having taking off their shoes, people of both sexes enter and kneel on small, thin, mattresses. As they left, one or two offered me theirs. They repeat the words of the prayers from printed prayer books. Few seem to be over forty-five. There are both men and women, though the latter are probably in the majority. Really well dressed men and women are conspicuously absent. Nevertheless, the yard outside is crowded with expensive cars. How come? A mystery.
  • During the afternoon the coffee shops and the Museum of Modern Art are crowded with young women, but hardly any men. At 1730 the streets are even more crowded with very well dressed young women returning from work. Hardly any men; apparently they work longer hours. At 1900 there are more men, but they are not anything like as well-groomed and dressed as the women. The mostly male bosses, it seems, are not on the street but in their cars. Same as in China.
  • My friend tells me that medical service is excellent. Up to date, quickly available, and very reasonably priced. I checked: health accounts for just over 7 percent of GDP. Not 19 percent, as in the US. And more modern and faster than in Israel, which spends about 9 percent. How do they do it?

All in all, except for the polluted air, not half bad.

Where Did the Iranian “Threat” Go?

41l9c6MZegLAs the illustration accompanying this text shows, starting as long ago as 2000, the world has been filled with discussions of the terrible, but terrible, Iranian nuclear “threat.” However, the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action having been signed in Lausanne in July 2015, the “threat” vanished almost overnight. Now that the dust has settled and the air is clean, I want to return to that topic. Doing so, I shall start with a general account and continue with an Israeli point of view; both because of the role Israel and Netanyahu have played in the story and because I myself, after all, am an Israeli.

First, the background. The origins of Iran’s nuclear program go back to the days of the Shah. The idea, at that time, was to deter the Soviets, whom not only the Shah but President Carter and his National Security Adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, suspected of planning a drive through the Zagros Mountains to the Persian Gulf. This explains why the US, though not exactly enthusiastic about what the Iranians were doing, did nothing to oppose it.

The Shah having been deposed in 1978, the Islamic Republic took over. Eighteen or so months later Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, seeking to exploit the prevailing chaos in Iran, launched an unprovoked attack on his neighbor. However, he miscalculated; the war, which was supposed to be over in a few months or even weeks, lasted fully eight years. The demands, military and economic, which it made on both belligerents were enormous. The more so because, after 1982, the price of oil kept falling. The difference between the two countries was that Saddam had the Gulf countries to pay for his war whereas Iran did not. As a result, the Iranian nuclear program was suspended.

The war having ended in 1988, the Mullahs resumed their efforts. By then they had every reason to do so. Iran was surrounded by nuclear powers on all sides; proceeding counterclockwise, they were the Soviet Union/Russia, Pakistan, India, and Israel (which, unlike Iran had never signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty). Not to mention Iraq, where Saddam Hussein was known to be working on his own program. Still things moved very, very slowly. So slowly, in fact, as to make one doubt whether the Iranians were really interested in building a bomb in the first place.

In 2002-2003 the American invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq again changed the situation. Sitting in Tehran, the Mullahs could see their country surrounded by American troops on all sides. Stationed in Iraq, several Central Asian Republics, Afghanistan, and the Persian Gulf—the Persian Gulf, nota bene—they formed an iron ring around Iran. The Mullahs had good reason to be worried. Partly because recent events had shown that, in a conventional war, their armed forces were no match for the American ones; and partly because, as the record since the infamous Gulf of Tonkin incident shows only too clearly, one can never know which country the US will choose to bomb next.

Accordingly, the years immediately after 2003 were some of the most dangerous Iran ever went through. Scant wonder the nuclear program was accelerated. Come 2005-6, though, Tehran had good reason to heave a sigh of relief. With the Americans hopelessly stuck in both Iraq and Afghanistan and domestic criticism of both invasions growing, the threat to Iran diminished.

Enter Israel. Under the Shah, relations between Tehran and Jerusalem had been excellent. This changed after 1978, but not nearly as fast as most people believe; it may come as news to many readers that as late as the mid-1980s high-ranking Israeli military experts were still helping Iran fight Iraq. It was only after 1988 that things really started changing. Even so Jerusalem vastly exaggerated the threat. As I myself became aware as far back as 1992 when an Israeli officer, speaking confidentially, told me he had received official news that the Iranians already had the bomb.

Between then and 2015, not a year passed without the Israelis claiming that Iran would have the bomb in five years, or three, or one, or even in six months. Back in 2006 one Russian “expert” went so far as to publish what he said he knew was the exact day on which the Israelis would strike. As we now know, both the Iranian “threat” and the Israeli one were, to put it impolitely but accurately, bull.

1427730328899Which brings me to the last question: why did several Israeli prime ministers, Netanyahu above all, raise the ruckus in the first place? The answer goes back at least as far as the mid-1950s when Moshe Dayan, then chief of staff, suggested that Israel should behave like a “rabid dog.” By threatening to go to war (in self-defense, of course), it could loosen the money- and weapon strings in Washington and Bonn. This policy has always served Israel well, enabling it to push through its nuclear program among other things. Proof? In the whole of history, no other country has ever received so much money and so many weapons free of charge.

How close Israel has ever been to launching a military operation against Iran is hard to say. Judging by the fact that neither Prime Minister Begin before he destroyed the Iraqi Reactor nor Prime Minister Olmert before he did the same to the Syrian one ever uttered a single public threat, the chance was never great. As the saying goes, a barking dog does not bite; the more so because success depends more on surprise than on any other factor. Now that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is in force, it is down to practically zero, which is why talk about it has all but disappeared.

Rest thou in peace, dear Iranian “threat.” And while one never knows what some future Israeli prime minister will choose to do, I very much hope that it has been put to rest for a long, long time.

PE? PE!

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The other day, walking through the Hebrew University library and looking for something interesting to read, my eye hit a tome with the grand-sounding title, The Oxford Companion to the Mind. I opened it; a thousand pages. Edited by one Richard L. Gregory, CBE, MA (Cantab), DSC, LLD, FRS, and published (second edition), in 2004. The volume differs from the better known Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) in that it is more than just a list of all kinds of symptoms, real and imaginary. Instead it is a wide-ranging encyclopedia. With alphabetically arranged articles about everything from the way the ancient Egyptians understood the mind to something called the halo effect.

How wonderful, I thought. An opportunity to refresh my understanding of a phenomenon which, as readers know, I have long been interested in: PE (penis envy). Full of anticipation, I turned the pages. What a disappointment! PE is just not there. Yok, as we Israelis, using a Turkish word, say.

Yet that is strange. It is not as if the volume ignores Freud and psychoanalysis. To the contrary, both merit fairly hefty articles. PE apart, Freudian and Freudian-derived ideas do figure in the book. In considerable numbers, what is more. Among them are the Oedipus Complex, the Electra Complex, the inferiority complex, and many more.

I decided to check. On Google.com PE has 422,000 hits. The Oedipus Complex has 431,000, the Electra Complex 159,000, “inferiority complex,” 411,000, and “castration anxiety” 87,400. The figures for Google.scholar are 12,100, 35,200, 2,600 30,900, and 14,800 respectively. On Ngram as of the year 2000, PE figured about as often as “inferiority complex” and far more often than did “Oedipus Complex,” “Electra Complex,” and “castration anxiety.” All in all, PE seems to put on quite a respectable showing. Yet whereas the other three do have entries in the aforesaid Companion, PE does not.

What is going on here? Some claim that there is no way to prove that PE exists. That may be so; however, the same applies to all the rest. After all the methodology, which consists essentially of listening to patients in a room called a clinic that may or may not contain a couch, is always the same. So I decided to do a little historical research.

Before we delve into the topic itself, though, it is important to note that Freud, like many male gurus throughout history, attracted female patients and students as a lamp attracts moths. No wonder, that, since he valued them and treated them like daughters. It was to one of these women, a Viennese society lady, that Freud owed his professorship, a position he, being Jewish, might not have got without her help. To another, Marie Bonaparte, he owed his life. In 1938 it was she who paid off the Nazis to allow him and his family to leave Austria. Thus any idea that Freud hated women, or did not value them, or looked down on them, is so absurd that only half-crazed present-day feminists can entertain it.

Freud first postulated the existence of PE in a contribution to the nature of sexuality he published in 1904. From this point on the concept often came up in his famous Wednesday evening seminars where he and his disciples, both male and female, discussed psychoanalysis. Both the men and the women tended to be highly intelligent. Quite a few of them later attained fame in their own right. None of them was a cretin who simply allowed Freud to overrun him or her.

And how did the women in the company take to the concept? One of the most important, Freud’s own daughter Anna, sidestepped the problem altogether. Not only did she focus on children, but she herself probably died a virgin. The rest were divided. On one side of the debate was Karen Horney. She did not deny the existence of PE; however, she argued that women envied men their penises not because their biology made them to but because the penis stood a symbol for the advantages society conferred on men. In other words, PE, and what she called “the flight from womanhood,” was a consequence, not a cause. For expressing this view, Horney ended up by being thrown out of the New York psychoanalytical society.

Several other female members of Freud’s circle disagreed. One was Hermine Hug-Hellmuth, said to be the most biologically-reductionist among all his followers. Another was Jeanne Lampl de Groot. To her, “the absence of a penis could not be regarded as a matter of secondary and trifling significance for the little girl.” Rather, PE was “a central point [from which] the development into normal femininity begins.” “Woman’s wish for a penis is the consequence of a biological datum that underlies her psychic reaction of feeling inferior and is rock bottom.”

More important than either of those was Helene Deutsch. Good-looking, capable and extremely hard working, her Psychology of Women (1944) was considered authoritative for decades on end, Deutsch was one of the first Austrian women to receive a medical degree. She considered herself, with good reason, as “a leader in female emancipation.” Yet this did not prevent her from explaining that the clitoris was “an inadequate substitute” for a penis. As late as 1998 a female psychotherapist by the name of Maria Torok wrote that “in every woman’s analysis there is inevitably a period in which appears a feeling of envy and covetousness for both the male sex organ and its symbolic equivalents.” Having made listening to women her profession, she should know.

Back to Freud. Then as today, finding out whether we humans are shaped by nature or nurture was a difficult, very often impossible, enterprise. Perhaps that is why Freud, who sometimes hesitated to enter where his followers treaded, never voiced his opinion on the matter. Instead he contended himself with the famous question, “what does woman want?”

I too will leave the question open. I do, however, want to provide some examples of what, in my view, PE is. When women discard skirts and put on trousers, then that is PE. When some women complain (as has in fact happened!) that their daughters are not being diagnosed with ADHD as often as boys are, then that is PE. When women refuse to have children so that they can have a career as men do, then that is PE. When women want to follow men to Afghanistan so they can get themselves shot to pieces for some obscure cause no one understands, then that too is PE.

When some Jewish Israeli women defy a court order and dance with a Torah scroll at the Wailing Wall as Jewish men have been doing for ages, then that is PE. When renowned feminist Betty Friedan says she wants to play in men’s “ballfield,” then that is PE. When the almost equally renowned feminist Naomi Wolf says she wants to see more ads with objects sticking out of “women’s [emphasis in the original] groins,” then that is PE doubled, tripled, and squared. In these and countless other cases, one can only conclude that women do in fact crave “the obvious ‘extra’ that [men] have” (Nancy Friday).

Always imagining men having it better and trying to imitate them. Never, but never, trying to invent something original men have not already done a zillion times and doing it. To quote my wife, perhaps the real reason why PE is left unmentioned in the Companion is because it is not a disease. It is a normal state of mind.

Just published!

Martin van Creveld, Pussycats: Why the Rest Keeps Beating the West—and What Can Be Done about It.

In the kingdom(s) of the West, something is rotten. Collectively, the countries of NATO are responsible for almost two thirds of global military spending. In terms of military technology, particularly electronics, communications and logistics, they have left most of the rest so far behind that it is no contest. Yet since at least the end of the Korean War back in 1953, almost every time they went abroad and fought non-Westerners they were defeated and had to withdraw without achieving their objectives. As happened, to cite but two recent cases, in Iraq and Afghanistan; and as may yet happen if and when Islam keeps spreading into Europe, as it is doing right now.

What went wrong? How did the ferocious soldiers, who between 1492 and 1914, brought practically the entire world under their control, turn into pussycats? Readers of this website will recognize some of my earlier attempts to answer these questions; now those answers have been extended and put together in a single book.

Chapter I, “Subduing the Young,” focuses on the way Western societies raise their scanty offspring. Protecting and supervising them at every step; depriving them of any kind of independence; forcibly preventing them from growing up; and, if they refuse to sit still for so many hours as to drive any adult out of his mind, pathologizing them and dosing them with Ritalin (a close relation to cocaine, incidentally). Briefly, in the words of a recent American best-seller, turning them into “excellent sheep.”

Chapter II, “Defanging the Troops,” shows how the same is happening in the military. Troops may be, and routinely are, ordered to go to the other side of the world so as to kill and, if necessary, be killed in turn. Depending on the army in question, though, they may not be allowed to be in the streets after 2300 hours, drink a beer, wear uniform in public (lest they become a target for terrorists), watch pornography (lest the sensitive souls of their female “comrades” be offended) or visit a brothel. Briefly, they are not allowed to be men; notwithstanding that proving their manhood has always been, and always will be, one of the most important factors that make soldiers fight.

Chapter III, “The War on Men,” examines the way in which the forces are being feminized affects, indeed infects, their fighting power. In theory female and male soldiers are treated equally as they should be. In reality the former are privileged in many ways. First, the system of “gender norming” means that the standards required from female soldiers during all kinds of training, courses, and tests are lower than those men must meet; with the incidental result that everyone’s training suffers. Second, when it comes to pregnancy and delivery female soldiers enjoy privileges male ones do not have. Third, various factors have created a situation where, in quite some militaries, it is now easier for a woman than for a man to gain a commission with all the advantages that the latter brings. The further removed any arm of service from the front, the truer this is. Worst of all, though everyone knows these facts, no one is allowed to mention them even unconsciously; meaning that the entire military is based on a lie so big as to undermine the foundations on which it is built.

Chapter IV, “Constructing PTSD,” looks at the history of post-traumatic stress disorder. PTSD, as it suddenly emerged during the American Civil War, is not so much a medical phenomenon as a cultural one. It is the product of a society which tolerates it and, all too often, encourages it and even celebrates it. It does so partly because the idea that war is bad for the soul is taken very much for granted; and partly because of the fear of litigation. Whatever the reason, things have got to the point where American troops returning from places like Afghanistan are now obliged to undergo annual testing for PTSD. Instead of feting its heroes, society, treating them like damaged goods, does what it can to humiliate them.

Chapter V outlines the emergence of modern societies which, exalting rights and forgetting about duty, have come very close to delegitimizing war itself. Especially in Europe, to use armed force for any purpose, specifically including self-defense or correcting a manifest wrong, has become almost taboo. For soldiers to express their pride, let alone joy, in their profession has also become intolerable.

Finally, the conclusions repeat the main problems. The also argue that, if Donald Trump is going to make good on his promise to “rebuild the military,” he has is going to have his hands full.

Like all my books, Pussycats is written in jargon-less language laymen can understand. But it is also as thoroughly documented as academics would wish. Go ahead, you bold readers, and take a look!

Guest Article: Sarajevo in the Baltic?

By

Karsten Riise*

Introduction

Ever since Russia took over Crimea from the Ukraine in 2014, Western analysts have often pointed fingers at Russia and its leader. Then US Secretary of state Hillary Clinton even compared Putin with “Hitler.” Enough of that; here I want to point out the strategic dilemmas Russia is facing and the consequences that may result.

New Sarajevo - NATO - RussiaTo start with, it ought to be clear that Russia cannot live with the fact that Ukraine is becoming an instrument in the hands of NATO. Russia could, should it want to, launch deep military pincer operations with the objective of taking control of that country. In my view, a Russian-inspired regime-change in the Ukraine must and will come.

The Baltic Countries May Become a Threat to Russia

NATO cannot possibly counter a Russian regime-change operation in Ukraine. However, it is also necessary to analyze the military pressures which NATO can build up against Russia in other theaters, especially the Baltic. The following are some of the possibilities:

  1. NATO, with bases in the three Baltic countries, can block international shipping and air traffic to St. Petersburg;
  2. NATO can blockade and starve-out Kaliningrad;
  3. NATO can build up its forces in the Baltic so as to threaten a coup de main-type attack against Minsk, which is only about 125 km from Lithuania.

Briefly, NATO, by reinforcing its military presence in the Baltic, can answer a Russian regime-change in the Ukraine by strangling Kaliningrad and threatening Minsk, the capital city of Belorussia, Russia’s closest ally. In the long term, NATO can also use its foothold in the Baltic to build up growing military pressure on St. Petersburg and Pskov. Seen form Moscow’s point of view such moves would be unacceptable, perhaps unbearable.

Western media, politicians and “experts” are forever pointing fingers at Russian “provocations.” They conveniently overlook the provocations which NATO itself is carrying out right now, as well as those it may want to carry out tomorrow. We should not be naïve. Back in the days of President Reagan the US carried out numerous simulated nuclear bombing attacks deep into Soviet territory. Had this become known at the time, the US would have denied it. NATO thinking is that these simulated nuclear attacks were helpful in causing the Soviet Union to break down.

Needless to say, what worked for the USA against the Soviet Union is something NATO would like to repeat against Russia today. Indeed it is possible that NATO is even now secretly continuing Reagan’s policy, using its forces in the Baltic to launch simulated air, sea and land attacks on Russia. Even if it does not, it may be only a matter of time before NATO has gathered enough strength to do just that.

Time for Russia to Take on the Baltic Countries is Running Out

A RAND study, completed in 2016, shows that NATO does yet not have sufficient forces in place to protect the Baltic countries. It would take Russian forces a maximum of sixty hours to reach the capitals of two of the countries in question. Such a Russian move would leave NATO with some bad, very bad, options.

Though NATO has begun to significantly upgrade its forces in the Baltic, its position there remains very insecure. Partly because the three Baltic countries are geographically isolated, and partly because, should there be a confrontation, NATO reinforcements passing through the straits of Denmark into the Baltic Sea could be interdicted by Russia. But Russia should not expect the window of opportunity to remain open for very long.

 

Baltic Membership in NATO is Destabilizing

When both sides have good reason to feel insecure, the relationship between them becomes unstable and something dramatic may well happen. This is currently the case in the Baltic where Russia may feel an understandable need to take action to remove the future military threat from the three Baltic countries before proceeding to liquidate its unfinished business in the Ukraine.

Any Russian operation in the Baltic will have to take place before NATO’s growing presence there makes it too dangerous. By NATO Treaty, such an operation will be considered an attack on all NATO countries, the US included. But honestly: In such a case, will the US and Europe risk a nuclear war? Probably not. Thus Russia may bet on a limited conventional war; one which would lead to the end of NATO.

On 17 May 2016 one of Denmark’s largest newspapers, Berlingske Tidende, published an article by a retired NATO brigadier general. The article was written with some typical NATO rhetoric. But under the rhetoric the Danish brigadier general seemed to be genuinely scared. He fears that something violent may take place in connection with NATO’s maneuver, BALTOPS 2016, schedules to take place in the Baltic Sea from 3- to 19 June, as Russia’s window for action in that region may become smaller in the future. As I just explained, his worries are in line with own my analysis.

Russian Interest in (Temporary) Stabilization in Syria

The Russian operations in Syria bear strong similarities to those of the German “Legion Condor” during the 1930s Spanish Civil War. They enabled the Kremlin to test and train its most advanced weapons—and watch them working perfectly well. The lesson to NATO? Beware!

For a conflict in the Baltic, Russia will prefer to have all of its air force back after its success in Syria. Land operations in the Ukraine are better undertaken in the summer time, and a Baltic operation will have to take place before NATO builds up too many forces in the Baltic. Therefore Russia has an interest in reaching a settlement (at least temporary) with the West on Syria; one that may allow it to bring the rest of its military aircraft home. As NATO’s build up in the Baltic accelerates, Russia may only have short time left to act

A Sarajevo Effect?

A 2014 study by the Washington-based Center for Strategic and Business Assessment (CSBA) shows that China has enough missiles to wipe out all ports and airports on Taiwan, and destroy Taiwan’s air force on the ground. Several RAND studies, including a US-China military balance assessment published in 2015, show that the US no longer enjoys an advantage over China in the Taiwan Strait. America’s overall advantage over China is also shrinking. Accordingly, why should China not exploit a US involvement in a European conflict in order to take over Taiwan? And why should Israel not use such an opportunity to strike at Iran’s nuclear installations? And why should Turkey not use it to invade Syria and northern Iraq? Other countries, such as Saudi Arabia and India, may also try to solve some issues the hard way. Insurgents in various North African, Central Asian and Southeast Asian countries may also seize the opportunity.

The price of oil has already started rising again. In a world such as the one we have just described, it may not stop at 50 or 100 or 150 dollars. It may go up all the way to 200 dollars, with gold rising in proportion. Stock markets have already peaked. If they cannot go higher, an insecure world will cause them to go off the cliff. And what about the dollar? The US can only finance its huge +3% foreign deficit and big public spending as long as its capital markets are safe and attractive, and the country itself is seen as a world-heaven of security.

Should the US turn out not to be strong enough to be on top of the situation, if conflicts explode in Europe, Asia and the Middle-East, trillions of dollars may flee the US, totally “reconfiguring” a world economy at war.

Welcome to the 21st century.

image001*Karsten Riise, M.Sc.(Econ) with a degree in Spanish, is former CEO of DaimlerChrysler Holding in Scandinavia and CFO of Mercedes-Benz in both Sweden and Denmark. Today he writes about international security, economics and politics.

 

Guest Article: Where China Is Headed

by

Iliya Atanasov*

India on the Rise?

The trend is your friend, but all trends come to an end. China’s resurgence is no exception to this time-tested maxim. Rising powers tend to get mired in multi-decade crises, often never to re-emerge. Such is the nature of the world and of human hubris. Yet, the consensus – including much of China’s own political and intellectual elite – gleefully extrapolates from the country’s meteoric rise. Just about everyone appears certain that within a decade or two China will surpass the US economically and mount a credible challenge to American military dominance in the Pacific. Reality and history, however, beg to differ. The foreseeable future is obvious: China’s current path ends in India.

To be sure, a quarter-century of breakneck economic growth has made China the envy of the world. Some half a billion people found new homes in its mushrooming cities. From skyscrapers and bullet trains to satellites and fighter jets, China quickly adopted just about every advanced technology. The country seemingly sailed through the global financial crisis of 2008-2009 as if it was happening on a different planet. More trillions of dollars of foreign ‘investment’ poured in at the tail end of a multi-decade industrial and real-estate boom. Invincible China’s omniscient leaders could make no misstep.

This mythic ascent to global pre-eminence has been just that – a myth. The reality is much less lustrous. Since the late 1980s, the state-controlled banking system has undergone several wholesale bailouts. China’s rulers blazed new ground in mathematics and statistics as the total of provincial GDPs quite often surpassed the central government’s nationwide figure. In leaked diplomatic cables, then-future Premier Li Keqiang was quoted as smiling that GDP numbers are ‘for reference only’. Yes, China’s economy has grown spectacularly, but probably much less so than widespread perceptions. And it happened on the wings of the most epic debt binge in human history. Years and decades of uncorrected malinvestment have inflated colossal bubbles in stocks, real estate and industrial capacity.

As the facts become too loud to ignore, the mainstream groupthink has struggled to find a counter-narrative. Chinese apparatchiks and foreign pundits peddled ‘soft landing’ as a substitute for the unravelling myth of economic miracle. But years of empty talk about rebalancing the economy have only added up to more – much more – of the same. China’s growth story was mostly based on debt-funded fixed investment: plants, real estate and infrastructure.

By 2014, fixed capital formation remained stubbornly anchored at about 45% of GDP, according to the government’s own statistics. In 2015, China still accounted for 57% of global cement output. The much-touted shift away from investment did not materialize. The country produced 30% more cement in the past three years than the US did in the past 116 years

Here is the problem. Any ‘rebalancing’ would require the instantaneous transmutation of tens of millions of semi-literate factory workers into computer programmers. Or laying them off. Neither is feasible, so Beijing has had to backtrack sheepishly every time real reform was attempted.

Every move to put the brakes on the rabid debt inflation that keeps China’s multiple bubbles from imploding has sent shockwaves through its banking system and the global economy. After housing showed signs of slowing, Beijing ushered in a stock bubble by allowing mom-and- pop day traders to lever up to the hilt. When that bubble burst, the prospect of social unrest forced a ham-fisted government takeover of the securities markets. Reports have surfaced that the authorities are busy inflating still other bubbles – this time in venture capital and commodities. Meanwhile, official statistics say fixed investment grew over 10% last year. Some rebalancing indeed.

Historically, explosive growth has invariably led up to a protracted and painful crisis period to correct for its excesses. China today is deeper in debt than the US at the outset of the Great Depression. Some recent data put Chinese bank ‘assets’ alone at 367% of GDP, up from 196% in 2007. A bank’s asset typically is someone else’s debt. And it is anybody’s guess how much more unserviceable debt festers on the balance sheets of local governments, state-owned enterprises and the shadow-banking sector, which collectively financed much of the fixed-investment rampage. The People’s Bank of China tallied new ‘total social financing’ at a neat $1 trillion just in the first quarter of 2016. Japan, with its measly 450% debt-to- GDP ratio, must have long been left in the dust by all-conquering China.

What China is experiencing is neither a rebalancing nor a landing, hard or soft; it is a crash. If American experience is any guide, the peak-to- trough contraction in China could easily reach 40% of GDP. It took the US stock market a quarter-century, a world war and a baby boom to recover to its 1929 levels.

Large-scale economic collapse, like market crashes, is not a singular event but a process that unfolds over many years. China’s economy has long been precisely this kind of slow-motion train wreck. And the 2015 stock-market plunge dealt a fatal blow to the soft-landing narrative. Hot money – foreign and domestic – rushed for the exits. Amid plummeting foreign trade, Beijing imposed ever more stringent currency controls while devaluing the yuan, thereby feeding an all-too- familiar vicious circle of capital flight.

According to consensus estimates, some $800 billion fled China in just a year. Chinese looking to park their money out of the country have caused epic property bubbles in major global cities. China’s debt problem is a threat not merely to its economy but the entire world. Yet, in terms of the country’s long-term prospects as a global power, the debt overhang pales in comparison to the demographic and environmental crises that are already baked in the cake. As a consequence of the one-child policy, ever-smaller cohorts with ever-greater job expectations are entering the workforce. China’s higher-education bubble has produced a generation demanding well-paid desk jobs but with even fewer marketable skills than its American counterpart. Meanwhile, millions of illegal immigrants from neighbours such as Vietnam and Burma already toil in China’s factory towns, as local Chinese become unaffordable for manufacturers to employ. This is Japanization writ large.

And then there is the aforementioned concrete. The permanent smog screen over the industrial heartland is one of the country’s lesser environmental challenges. Life in the cities is prohibitively expensive for many migrant workers. As they age and as industrial growth slows and reverses, millions of unlicensed migrants will have to head back, but may not like what they find at ‘home’. The Chinese have literally cemented over large swaths of what used to be agricultural land mostly populated by subsistence farmers.

There is no telling how much heavy metals and toxic chemicals have been dumped into China’s soils and aquifers. The effects of this yet-unfathomed ecological calamity will unfold for decades, impacting everything from productivity to healthcare costs in an already aging society.

Against this backdrop, expectations that China will inevitably subvert US dominance are premature. Granted, economic troubles are not much of an obstacle for nationalism and militarism. But China’s nationalist resurgence and recent maritime adventures are a sign of weakness rather than strength. Careening away from Maoism and towards Leninism underscores the leadership’s acute awareness that the economic story will not last much longer as a source of legitimacy for one-party rule. Such concerns are behind President Xi’s taking direct command of the army. Chinese elites may well decide to inflate a nationalism bubble, just as they encouraged stock-market speculation to deflect attention from real estate. Nationalism is both cheaper and more sustainable.

But then there is the geopolitical context. On the other side of the Himalayas, another giant is awakening from its stupor. India’s economy is much smaller than China’s and shares many of the same pollution problems. But India has three great strategic advantages in the ‘long game’ that China is playing. India has a much younger population and more than twice the population growth rate. It will surpass China over the next decade or two as the world’s most populous country. In addition, India is much closer to the Persian Gulf, where the planet’s most important energy source is concentrated. When it comes to petroleum, India literally stands in the way of China. It also has a tradition of worryingly friendly relations with Japan, which can be a source of capital if an alliance is pursued more actively. Finally, India’s government and economic system are decentralized. In a decentralized economic system, mistakes are more likely to remain localized and less likely to be perpetuated by large-scale bailouts. This is why India has been developing in fits and starts, but also why its growth will be much more sustainable than China’s.

With relatively low levels of debt, India’s explosive surge is just a matter of when. The talk of China’s economic decline does not even begin to capture the size and scope of the global impact. The sheer scale of economic mismanagement puts to shame all previous bubbles, so it is hard to say whether the world as a whole, not just China, will be able to dig itself from this hole without major war. Yes, China’s odds of recovering 20-30 years down the line are not terrible, but in the meantime the new rising power in Asia is going to be India. Per capita, India’s economy is still in its infancy. But watch out – they grow up fast.

*Iliya Atanasov is founder & CEO of moneyfact.org and senior fellow on finance at the Pioneer Institute for Public Policy Research in Boston, Massachusetts.