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TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.

Articles written after august 2005
Population, religion, politics, wars
Latin America's lost cause.
The oil economy
The G8, yet another outdated institution?
Realignment
Antiglobalization kills
The nuclear race
The oil for food scandal
The Kyoto Protocol comes into force
Destabilizing factors of 2004
Donate to the victims of the Tsunami
APEC is the real deal
Not everybody is as lucky as the Afghans and the Iraqis
The Olympic games: a mirror of the times
Which are the empires?
Latin America's second thoughts
The West and Islam
Tampering with democracy
A (anti-American) wish for the new year
The end of free world trade?
The war in Iraq and the world media
A history lesson
What is wrong with the United Nations
Nuclear Power in the World
Who has weapons of mass destruction
Europeans march for peace
World War III?
The Iraqi crisis is reshaping the world alliances
The corporations who run the world
Freedom of the press and remnants of fascism
Bush and the European dwarves
The IMF and the World Bank must pay
The US reneges Kyoto: idiot or savant?
The oil crisis will only get worse
The euro is not a currency
Rewriting World War II
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (August 2005) Population, religion, politics, wars. A recent report by the United Nations (World Population Prospects) predicts that in the next 50 years Western Europe's population will decrease from 334 million people to 324 million while Northern Africa's population will increase from 191 million to (drum roll) 312 million. Islam at work: how in heaven will the strip of land between the Sahara desert and the Mediterranean feed 312 million people? Needless to say, this a recipe for a major conflict in the Mediterranean basin, as the Arab population of northern Europe will inevitably try to expand on the other side.
    But this is still peanuts compared with the population increase that is expected in the Middle East: +79%, bringing the population of this equally desertic area (from Turkey to Yemen) to 383 million (and it doesn't even include Iran). Islam at work. Muslim scholars who look for the causes of poverty in the Islamic world should pause and think if, lo and behold, maybe population growth has something to do with it (as opposed to the Zionist and American conspiracies that are so popular in the Islamic world).
    Black Africa will also see its population increase dramatically, from 452 million to more than one billion (1038 million). This number is actually less scary, because Black Africa does have huge underpopulated lands and virtually unlimited natural resources. It is just a matter of developing those lands and exploiting those resources.
    The population of Latin America will increase faster (+42%) than Northern America (+33%). The same argument applies here: Latin America is mostly underpopulated, its poverty being driven by mismanagement and not by lack of resources. The USA's population is projected to increase to almost 400 million. But the USA is one country for which the data on immigration are more important than the data on population growth, so it may well be that the USA will end up growing faster than the rest of the continent (as it has in past centuries).
    China's population will increase only by 6%, Japan's will decrease by 13%, and Southeast Asia's will increase by a manageable 36%. In fact, one suspects that all those countries will eventually go the way of Japan: as people get wealthier, they will make fewer and fewer children. The notable exception might be Indonesia, where population is growing faster and wealth is growing slower.
    The Indian subcontinent and Central Asia are projected to add 800 million people (half in India, half in Islamic countries), a big increase for an area where it is already difficult to find a spot in the shade.
    Russia will lose 22% of its population and Eastern Europe as a whole 25%. The Slavic world will depopulate faster than any region, and is the only developing region to depopulate.
    It doesn't really take a lot of knowledge of history, politics, economics and religion to figure out where the great seismic faults of the future lie: the Islamic world will be poorer and more crowded, and will represent a escalating pressure on its non-Islamic neighbors.
    The rest of the world (North America, Latin America, China, Far East, Russia, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Black Africa), with the exception of India, will not need to expand geographically in order to accomodate its population. But the Islamic world does need more space, much more space.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (August 2005) Latin America's lost cause. In the midst of all the turbulence in the Islamic world, of the booming Chinese and Indian economies, and of the troubled Russian federation, the West has lost track of what is happening in Latin America. It is not the first time that Latin America has been so peripheral to the main political and military events that its adventures have been only a footnote to world history. In fact, it seems to be its destiny: Latin America is second only to black Africa in being forgotten by western news media. The most famous Latin American leader is Fidel Castro (not a compliment to the others).
    Instead, something really worrisome is happening south of the border. Latin America undergoes cycles of stability and instability, democracy and tyranny. The 1990s heralded an age of democracy, that blossomed everywhere from Chile to Mexico. The 2000s seem to be a decade of crisis for all those democracies. Chronic problems of Latin American democracies include the usual suspects: corruption, drug trafficking, wealth gap between the rich and the poor (usually divided along racial lines), and violent opposition groups. Some countries are now ruled by a Mussolini-style duce (Venezuela and Cuba). Some countries are plunging into chaos due to social conflicts (Bolivia, Ecuador and previously Argentina). Some countries are still fighting a communist-style guerrilla (Colombia). Some countries survive on trade with the USA and demagogy (Mexico). Some government are plagued by corruption charges (Brazil and Peru). With the notable exception of Chile (as usual), there is no major Latin American country that can be said to be riding the worldwide progress towards democracy and the booming world economy.
    People who live in Latin America do not perceive these as years in which democracy made inroads all over the world (Georgia, Ukraine, Palestine, Iraq, Lebanon, and several African countries) and do not perceive these as years in which the world economy has recovered. At best, they perceive this age as an age of crisis. At worst, they perceive this as a prelude to a continent-wise political earthquake (that is mostly shifting power to the Left, as with Hugo Chavez, elected in 1999 in Venezuela, Luiz Inacio Lula, elected in 2002 in Brazil, Nestor Kirchner, elected in 2003 in Argentina, Tabare Vazquez, elected in 2004 in Uruguay, Evo Morales, elected in 2005 in Bolivia).
    Of course, these days one can simply accuses the USA of being responsible for all evils (and many Latin Americans do so). But the truth is that Latin people have never quite mastered the art of running a country. Latin America has had many advantages over the rest of the world: it was spared most of the colonial wars, it was spared two world wars, it was spared communism, and now it is being spared Islamic terrorism. Latin America was the first and foremost country to benefit from trade with the USA, that has become the main source of development for the rest of the world. Latin America is united in speaking mostly the same language and around the same religion. Latin America inherited from Spain and Portugal an intellectual tradition that has yielded Nobel prizes (more than any other developing region of the world). And, still, Latin America never seemed to benefit. Just about every region of the world seems to have benefited more. For example, no major technological innovation has ever come from Latin America. Latin America never built universities that could compete with the rest of the world, and now lags behind in science and technology. India came out of a semi-communist regime and decades of starving to become a world leader in software, while most Latin Americans still do not know how to read email. China is copying every western manufacturing technology while Latin America never created a major car manufacturer or electronic maker, despite having access to the same western technology for much longer.
    While both China and India and most of Indochina were starving, the Latin American capitals were enjoying a "dolce vita" worthy of Paris and Rome. Why is Asia now wealthier, safer and more democratic than Latin America?
    Latin America could have done what China, India, South Korea, Eastern Europe and many other countries have done. Despite having resources, knowledge and cheap labor, it never did. It has remained fundamentally an exporter of resources with very fragile industrial infrastructures and primitive service structures. Its main product has always been sociopolitical troubles. The main of these (or at least the one that has never gone away) is the wealth gap between the descendants of the Spanish (the class that controls the economy, and the main beneficiaries of the export of raw materials) and the descendants of the indios and of the black slaves, the lower classes that gain very little from such exports and often live in shocking poverty.
    Latin America is experiencing a mini-boom in 2005, largely due to the fact that the world economy is booming (outside of the eurozone). But, again, one notices the difference: where India exports software and China exports manufactured goods, the Latin American "powers" (such as Brazil) are mainly exporting natural resources. Brazil's economy is booming thanks to exports to China, but look closer: Brazil is exporting the materials that China needs (mostly food and metals), while China is exporting back to Brazil finished goods. In other countries of Latin America the trend is even more worrisome, as they don't even have the few industries that Brazil has. Latin America is still surviving mainly by selling its minerals to the world, the simplest and more primitive kind of economy.
    In the meantime little progress has been done to defeat the chronic problems of the region: crime, corruption, unemployment and demagogy.
    The problem, ultimately, lies with the Latin American people. Corruption is endemic because people tolerate it and take advantage of it. Governments are inept because the average person loves to criticize but not to get informed. Corrupt and inept politicians stay in power because the leftist intellectuals offer an even worse alternative. And social castes still exist because neither did the educated elite try to educate the rest of the population nor did the lower classes try to get an education. In concluding, every component of Latin American society has contributed and still contributes to the mess.
    Latin America has had many chances to catch up with the USA and Western Europe. It missed all of them. Now that the entire world (not just the USA and Western Europe) is passing it, it may never get another one.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (August 2005) The oil economy Fortune has published the list of the largest companies in the world. Four of them, BP (British), Shell (Dutch-British), Total (French) and Exxon (USA), are oil companies. Four of them, General Motors (USA), Ford (USA), DaimlerChrysler (German-USA) and Toyota (Japanese) are car manufacturers. Only two (Wallmart, the largest, and General Electric, the ninth largest) are not related to oil. Little did Henry Ford know when he invented the Model T (the first mass manufactured gasoline-powered vehicle) that he had just weakened the West by making it so dependent on foreign oil.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (July 2005) The G8, yet another outdated institution? The G8 (that gathers the leaders of the seven most industrialized countries plus Russia) meets every now and then to much fanfare and ever more violent street demonstrations to discuss what these leaders presumably consider the most important issues of the time. This time, they focused on global warming and povery in Africa. The former is a non-issue because we are not even sure that it is happening and whether global warming would be bad (see The US reneges Kyoto: idiot or savant?). The latter is certainly a real issue, although one wonders why only African poverty and not Burmese or Bolivian poverty.
    But the real issue is that the G8 is not not dealing with any of the top problems of the world: the collapsing dollar, the trade imbalances (the spiraling trade deficit of the USA), the crisis of the European Union, the Islamic wars, the Chinese arms race, etc. The G8 seems to live in a remote world that has only a vague understanding of history. Do we really need to waste taxpayers' money to bring eight world leaders (and their entourages) together to discuss what any Irish pop star has already widely publicized?
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (July 2005) Realignment. On june 28, Russia and China announced that they would strengthen energy cooperation in the Sakhalin region, which is rich in oil and gas that China desperately needs. Japan used to be Russia's favorite partner in that region, but it is now clearly being replaced by China.
    Whether by coincidence or not, on july 19, the USA and India announced an even more important strategic cooperation, one on nuclear energy. The prime minister of India also had positive words for the USA's effort to spread democracy around the world.
    At the same time, during the meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), China and Russia congratulated Uzbekistan on its suppression of dissent, while the USA condemned it. Russia and China have notoriously no warm feelings for the USA's mission to democratize the world.
    Russia is largely self-sufficient, but the USA, Japan and China have growing economies that desperately need energy and other resources. Thus they are already competing on the world markets for control of the resources of Africa, the Middle East and Latin America. China, Japan and the USA (and soon India) have created economies that cannot be sustained with their national resources, and will rely ever more on foreign resources. Ironically, the countries that can provide those resources are mainly the poor countries of the world, such as those of Africa and Latin America, whose economies are so weak that they don't need all the resources they have.
    The European Union is too weak an entity to enter the picture yet. Most likely, it will simply follow the USA, more out of fear of Russia than of real love.
    Thus it appears that a big game for the control of the world is underway, with Russia and China on one side, and the USA, European Union, India and Japan on the other side. Unlike the Cold War, in which the economic advantage was clearly in the USA camp, this time both sides can offer something to the countries that decide to ally with them.
    Basically, the new world will be a world of two main groups: the developed economies (that consume more resources than they have) and the underdeveloped economies (that consume less than they have). The countries of the first group will have to compete for access to the resources of the second group. This time it will be money, not politics, that will drive the realignment.
    As economies keep expanding, the world will become ever more treacherous. The country that manages to become more self-sufficient might end up ruling the world, while the others bleed to death in the effort to bid for ever scarcer resources. Future historians might remember 2005 as the year that this new age started.
    While the attention of the media is focused on Islamic terrorists (who mainly kill poor Muslims but cause no significant damage to world economies or borders), the real action might be happening away from the fanatic descendants of the self-appointed prophet of Medina, in fact it might be happening precisely in the areas that are least affected by Islam, and least interested in what the self-appointed prophets of the past had to say.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (July 2005) Antiglobalization kills. Just like the communists were simply the nazifascists in a new disguise, so the anti-globalization militants are proving to be simply the ultra-nationalists in a new disguise.
    Lesotho is a desperately poor country and it is a good example of what the antiglobalization movement is causing around the world. Lesotho used to be a model of rational development. It was a country that enforced basic labor ethics and that tried hard to put its house in order (its international debt is now negligible). The net result is that textiles made in Lesotho are now too expensive. The Chinese and western investors simply shut down their factories and moved to other countries. If this trend continues, some European investors will simply go back to Europe and create jobs there instead of Africa and Asia. Lesotho does not even qualify for debt relief because... it already made sacrifices and reduced its debt. Lesotho is simply paying a huge price for the laws forced on its economy by the antiglobalization movement.
    "We have been punished for meeting our obligations" said Lesotho's prime minister Pakalitha Mosisili.
    Globalization brought jobs, education, health care and wealth to Lesotho. Antiglobalization restored the old order: extreme poverty while the West goes on wasting its wealth. Women who were underpaid textile workers are now turning to prostitution for a few dollars a day because they lost their jobs and need to feed their children. Children who used to work part-time and go to school at least a few hours a day are now home all the time because families don't have money to send them to school at all. The antiglobalization movement got what it wanted (enforce the law in Lesotho) and now simply ignores the consequences: millions of people reduced to starvation, prostitution and slavery.
    The same story is being told by people in other developing countries that are being forced to increase the cost of labor to appease the antiglobalization movement.
    Hitler was a gentleman compared with the antiglobalization militants. Their extermination program is even more scientific and widespread than the holocaust.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (May 2005) The nuclear race. A few years ago, India and Pakistan thumbed their nose at the international community and simply went ahead with their nuclear programs. They built enough nuclear weapons to decimate each other and are now happy neighbors, still respected by everybody.
    Israel has been unofficially nuclear since the 1970s. Besides, Israel has some of the greatest nuclear scientists, and may probably build more "efficient" weapons than the USA itself.
    Following their example, North korea and Iran decided to develop nuclear weapons. The world accepts a nuclear power once it becomes nuclear, so why not become nuclear? North Korea has admitted that it has built nuclear weapons. Iran still denies it, pretending that it needs nuclear power to provide electricity to its citizens (despite the fact that it sits on some of the world's largest oil reserves...).
    The issue is not who deserves to be nuclear and who deserves to be not. The issue is that today any country (and many scientists) can acquire the technology and reach the point where they are de facto nuclear without being. Does anyone doubt that Japan or Germany (two of the main providers of nuclear technology) could not go nuclear in a month or two if they wanted to? Thus "banning" nuclear weapons is a bit of an oxymoron. It's like banning Britney Spears CDs, knowing that you can buy them in every store of the world.
    A nuclear-free world remains a highly desirable place. It is hard to believe that the USA would not wish such a world: its power would be enhanced, not decreased, by the elimination of nuclear weapons (e.g., North Korea can threaten the USA because it has nuclear weapons, but it would be powerless with conventional weapons to threaten anyone other than its immediate neighbors).
    The real issue is that today it has become impossible to guard the world against nuclear weapons. It is just too easy to acquire the technology and the know-how.
    In fact, this is the real danger. It is unlikely that even the most obnoxious of regimes would be the first one to use nuclear weapons. But it is likely (more likely every day) that several regimes (starting with France and ending with North Korea) would sell nuclear technology and know-how to whatever country or group is willing to offer an appropriate compensation (in strategic, military, economic or financial terms).
    In other words, the USA and other nuclear powers might be willing to denuclearize, but who is going to guarantee that no other country a) develops the technology to build nuclear weapons, and b) sells it to the best offer?
    A factor that further complicates the issue is that the world has grown too dependent on oil and is now ready to change course and return to nuclear power. Nuclear power for civilian use is not the same as nuclear power for bombs, but they share the majority of the design. If you know how to build a nuclear power plant, you know how to build a nuclear bomb. As humankind inevitably starts building many more nuclear plants, nuclear know-how will spread and increase.
    It is pointless to ask North Korea or anyone else to abandon their programs: there is no way to control them, and there may be dozens of laboratories where the know-how and technology is retained. It is virtually impossible to monitor all international transactions to make sure that nuclear technology is not sold to rogue states or terrorist groups (or fanatical groups of other kinds, ranging from Christian fundamentalists convinced of the coming of the end of the world to serial killers craving for bigger carnages).
    The only solution out of this is to make nuclear power harmless. The world has to invest more into finding the "antidote" to a nuclear explosion and contamination. The reason why warriors stopped using spears and arrows is that we built shields. The reason why terrorists don't hijack planes anymore is that we screen passengers with metal detectors. The reason why enemies don't attack you with the virus of the flue is that we built vaccines. The proper solution to the nuclear threat is to develop systems to: 1. detect nuclear material even at very large distances; 2. destroy incoming missiles in the air; 3. "cure" people contaminated with nuclear radiation. This should become a world-wide project shared by all the countries in the world, a high priority for the international community, and a well-advertised project. In 2005, only one country is developing a program of "space weapons", both offensive and defensive: the USA. Any country that dreams of becoming a world power by building nuclear weapons is dreaming: they may soon be as obsolete as arrows and spears.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (April 2005) The oil for food scandal Framing the problem is not difficult. Throughout the 1990s, the United Nations imposed sanctions against Saddam Hussein's regime. The sanctions only allowed Iraq to sell oil to pay for food and medicines for its people. Throughout the 1990s, humanitarian organizations noticed that Iraq was in short supply of both food and medicines. Since most humanitarian organizations are manned by former communists eager to blame the USA for everything, they blamed the USA (who knows why the USA and not the entire United Nations) for sanctions that were killing thousands of children (some even claimed one million children, which always sounds like a good number).
    Today we know that the humanitarian organizations were correct: thousands of children died because of missing medicines and food. But we also know that the cause was not the sanctions: the cause was a colossal fraud carried out by all parties that allowed Saddam Hussein to circumvent the sanctions and steal the oil money.
    The USA has accused the United Nations of corruption, and investigations have unveiled a murky affair involving Kofi Annan's own son. It is telling of the moral standard at the United Nations that Kofi Annan never even dreamed of resigning.
    On the other hand, Kofi Annan has revealed that the USA and Britain, officially appointed by the United Nations to guard Iraq's territory, allowed Jordan and Turkey to do business with Saddam Hussein's regime to compensate Jordan and Turkey for the business they were losing on account of the sanctions.
    The reality might well be that both parties are right: there was corruption in the United Nations, with officials gladly helping Saddam rob the Iraqi people, and there was corruption in Washington, where Bill Clinton closed both eyes and let his Turkish and Jordanian friends get rich while the Iraqi children were dying.
    The lesson learned? See What is wrong with the United Nations.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (February 2005) In february 2005, the Kyoto protocol (to reduce the level of greenhouse-gas emissions in order to avoid climate changes such as global warming) was adopted by 141 countries of the world but not the USA, China, India and Australia. I have not changed idea since I wrote this article four years ago: The US reneges Kyoto: idiot or savant?
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (December 2004) Destabilizing factors of 2004. At the end of 2004, the world is still dangerously on the verge of a world war, although most analysis tend to focus on regional crises. Here are my views on what are the biggest destabilizing factors in the world right now:
    • Islam: by far the most powerful force tearing the world apart today, funded by the wealth of the oil economy (i.e., mainly by the USA and Western Europe) and hijacked by fanatics determined to obey the word of the Quran (which clearly prescribes a world-wide jihad against the infidels)
    • Russia: determined to retain the territories it has occupied (regions of Moldova and Georgia), to oppress the tightly controlled republic of Belarus, to destabilize its neighbors (particularly Ukraina) and to quash any demand from independence from ethnic groups long oppressed by the Russians (Chechnya)
    • China: imperially determined to retain the territories it has occupied (Tibet, Turkestan, Hong Kong) against the will of their people, and threatening to invade democratic Taiwan
    • Germany and France: too tolerant towards intolerance, to the point that they tend to protect all totalitarian and expansionist regimes of the world
    • European Union in general: so divided within itself to the point of being more a problem than a solution
    • United Nations: see What is wrong with the United Nations.
    On the "stability" front, one can list
    • The Far East: much more interested in business competition than in territorial expansions or imperial domination
    • Sub-Saharan Africa, which is increasingly democratic and peaceful
    • India and Pakistan, one of the few cases in which common sense prevailed
    • NATO: a much more effective model than the United Nations of how countries can cooperate in creating stability, in fact the only example of an organization that has consistently created stability in what used to be a very unstable part of the world (Europe)
    • The USA and its allies (mainly Britain), because, despite all the mistakes that one can list, the USA is the only barrier against the great destabilizers (Islam, Russia, China). Without the USA, these forces would simply annihilate their neighbors.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (December 2004) Donate to the victims of the Tsunami. Here's a list of aid agencies that we can contribute to: And here is site that ranks them according to how effectively they spend your charitable contributions. Also, Charity Navigator.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (November 2004) APEC is the real deal. 1989 may go down in history not only as the year that the Berlin wall fell, signaling the collapse of communism in Europe, but also as the year when APEC was formed. This organization for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation originally included the USA, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Thailand. China and Taiwan joined in 1991. Chile, Mexico and Peru joined during the 1990s. Russia and Vietnam joined in 1998. Thus APEC includes the fastest growing economies of North America, Latin America and the Far East, and the only three countries that can aspire to supraregional influence (USA, Russia, China). While the world is still focused on the United Nations, NATO and the European Union, APEC is shaping up to become the forum where the decisions that matter are being taken.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (October 2004) Not everybody is as lucky as the Afghans and the Iraqis Afghanistan had its first democratic elections. Iraq is going to have one in a few months. Let us not forget the places where no democratic election has ever taken place:
    • India has never allowed a referendum on Kashmir. This has caused wars with Pakistan and terrorism. Kashmir is now one of the few places in the world that is still divided. India has known all along that the people of Kashmir would vote to join Pakistan. India has been trying to change the mix of the population of its side of Kashmir (which amounts to "ethnic cleansing"). There is no excuse for not allowing a referendum on Kashmir.
    • Morocco invaded Western sahara in 1975 and annexed it. It did exactly what Saddam Hussein wanted to do in Kuwait. For reasons that are difficult to understand even to the most pro-American partisan, the USA has accepted the defacto annexation of Western Sahara by Morocco but has retaliated with massive bombings when Saddam Hussein tried to do the same thing in Kuwait. The people of Western Sahara now live mostly in refugee camps in the Algerian desert. The Palestinians are rich compared with the Sahrawis. Morocco has been relocating hundreds of thousands of Moroccans into Western Sahara (which amounts to "ethnic cleansing"). There is no excuse for not allowing a referendum on Western Sahara.
    • Hamas has never welcomed the idea of democratic elections in Palestine. Neither has Arafat ever liked the idea of free elections. So the Palestinians have kept fighting the Israelis (who have nothing against free elections in Palestine) but they have rarely complained that their own leaders (both Arafat and Hamas) want to keep them enslaved. There is no excuse for not allowing ordinary Palestinians to choose their own leaders.
    • Belarus is the last dictatorship left in Europe. It is protected by Russia, that sees it as the only country that does not want to join NATO or the European Union. The European Union tolerates its dictator Alexander Lukashenko, because it desperately needs gas and oil from Russia. There is no excuse for tolerating the last dictatorship of Europe.
    • China has never allowed any kind of elections, not even local ones. It has never allowed referendums in the three countries that it annexed against their will: Turkestan, Tibet and Hong Kong. There is no excuse for the West to do business with a country that occupies three countries and doesn't allow its citizens to vote even on local issues.
    • Burma, Vietnam and Laos are the last dictatorships left in the Far East. While there are signs that Vietnam and Laos are moving towards a less strict form of communism, Burma is still locked into a medieval kind of dictatorship. There is no excuse for tolerating the Burmese junta.
    • Cuba is the last dictatorship in Latin America. It is the pride of all the anti-Americans of the world, because Fidel Castro has "resisted" (i.e. he has continued to oppress his people) for 40+ years. Both European and Latin American countries don't mind dealing with Castro, even if it is painfully obvious that Castro is a madman and a remnant of an age long gone. There is no excuse for Europe and Latin America to tolerate the last dictatorship of Latin America.
    • No Arab country have ever allowed free elections. This is the single largest block of dictatorships in the world. It should be an embarrassment to the Arab people, who, for many centuries, used to have the most advanced civilization in the world.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (September 2004) The Olympic games: a mirror of the times. The USA has always been first or second in Olympic gold medals, from the first edition to this year. But the others truly tell the story of how the world has changed. In the first edition, four of the top five countries were european (behind the USA). So only two continents were represented: Europe and America. It remained that way for 60 years. The number of european countries in the top five went down to two in 1960 and remained two for 28 years (not counting the Soviet Union, which was euroasiatic). >From 1992 to 2000 there was only one european country in the top five. The 2000 games were the first ones in which four continents (America, Asia, Oceania, Europe) were represented in the top five countries. In 2004 only three continents are represented, because Asia has two countries in the top five (China and Japan) and Europe has... zero. In 2004, for the first time ever, there is no european country in the top five. And China has become the second power after the USA.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (June 2004) Which are the empires? The USA is not an "empire" (at least according to the traditional meaning of the term), simply because it does not behave like an empire (see The Politics of the USA). In fact, the USA is the first power not to behave like an empire. De facto, it has created a new kind of history, one in which it is not the "empires" that are protagonists. For better and for worse, the new world order is one in which the most powerful country in the world is not trying to annex territories and is not creating colonies. So much so that the purported colonies of the USA (Japan and western Europe) are often at odds with the USA. France, which was liberated and occupied by the USA, is rapidly becoming the leader of the opposition to the USA. Japan and Germany, both defeated and destroyed by the USA, have been the main economic competitors of the USA. The purported colonies of the USA (western Europe and Japan) have been getting richer much faster than the USA (in terms of both growth rate and living standards). In fact, one could claim that the USA got a little poorer since 1945 while western Europe and Japan definitely got richer, and the reason is that the USA helped them become its main competitors.
    On the other hand, the imperial ideology is still alive in the very places that accuse the USA of imperial ideology. China, for one, has no intention to grant Tibet and Turkestan independence. China has forced a multitude of people to speak just one language, Mandarin, in an area that had hundreds of languages. China has forced Hong Kong to become part of China, and wants Taiwan to become part of China. Where geography has protected them, the peoples of Asia have developed a strong anti-Chinese sentiment (e.g., in Vietnam), precisely because Chinese policy has traditionally been to invade and annex anything they could.
    Even the European Union is a consequence of the old imperial mentality. It is a territorial expansion and an attempt to create uniformity over a multitude of different peoples. All in all, it is not so different from what Spain, Napoleon, Austria and Hitler tried to achieve at different times. This time it is being done in a peaceful manner, clearly a major difference with the past, but, ultimately, the passion for "uniting" is inherited from the old imperial view of the world. In fact, many Europeans are already tempted to speak of the united Europe not as a symbol of peaceful integration but as a new world power (in political and economic terms): the old imperial mentality is not dead at all.
    Russia is imperial by definition: Russians are the majority of the Russian population, but certainly not the only ones. And, as Chechnya proves, it is debatable whether the other peoples of Russia want to be Russians. Given a chance, many of them would secede.
    The USA is often accused of "imperial" behavior, but the truth may just be the opposite: anti-American sentiment is often due to the fact that the USA does not behave like an empire, and, in fact, it is a symbol of the end of the imperial age. The USA is a symbol of the end of the European, Chinese, Russian and Arab empires. No wonder that so many people in Europe, China, Russia and Arabia dislike the USA and what it stands for.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (May 2004) Latin America's second thoughts. A few decades ago, Latin America was famous for its "caudillos", ruthless dictators a` la Mussolini who survived thanks to the twisted logic of the Cold War. They quickly disappeared once the Soviet Union collapsed and the USA found better things to do than support fascist dictatorships. One after the other, all the countries of Latin America buried their totalitarian regimes and became democratic.
    Unfortunately, it has not worked. Unlike Europe, where democracy brought immediate prosperity to the vast majority of people, in South America democracy has been mostly a nine-letter word and little else. With the exception of Chile, Costarica and perhaps Mexico (and briefly Peru, in the early Fujimori era), the democratic governments of Latin America have been plagued with corruption and incompetence. Poverty has increased, not decreased. (A special issue of Scientific American in september 2005 shows that extreme poverty is declining worldwide, except in Latin America: the 1.5 billion poor of 1981 have been reduced to 0.7 billion poor in 2005. But most of the gain has been all in one region, East Asia, that used to have more than 50% of the poor of the world in 1981 and it has almost zero in 2005. Latin America is the only region where the number of poor has dramatically increased, more than doubled: dictators were better than democratic governments at feeding the people).
    People have been getting so disgusted by politics that they openly express regret that the old tyrants are gone. Many of those tyrants knew how to run a country, and a few (e.g., Pinochet) were not corrupt at all. The new generation of democratic leaders is mostly incompetent and corrupt. Conditions for ordinary people have not improved. In fact, the number of people who live in poverty has increased to almost 44% (it was 41% twenty years ago). Inequality between the rich and the poor has never been so great. And people's distrust of government has neven been so high (a recent UNDP poll showed that 54.7% of voters would support a coup by a dictator). Polls show that popular support for populist presidents has collapsed throughout the hemisphere: the approval rate is 8% for Peru's Alejandro Toledo (much lower than Fujimori's when Fujimori was forced to resign) and 28% for Brazil's Luiz Lula da Silva (lower than its predecessor, which Lula defeated in a historical Leftist victory). Not to mention Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, who faces daily protests, or Bolivia's Carlos Mesa, who became president just six months ago when Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada was forced to resign, or Argentina, where people simply lost any faith that the crisis can be solved by politicians.
    Where is the problem? The problem is that only Pinochet found a way to 1. create (real) wealth and 2. distribute it to (almost) everybody. Just about everybody else has failed: either they create wealth but fail to distribute it (the vast majority in the 1990s) or distribute wealth but, alas, what they are distributing is poverty not wealth (Chavez). People perceive that wealth does exist, but is siphoned away by a few powerful families who are indifferent to the lot of the majority. Alas, this was exactly the case during the 1990s, when GNP kept growing (sometimes at Far Eastern rates) but ordinary folks saw no benefit from the boom. When ordinary folks turned to populist leaders (such as Chavez), the country as a whole became poorer. No wonder, therefore, that a growing majority curses democracy. They still see the generals as the guarantors of honesty. Unless the political leaders of Latin America get their act together, we might witness a chain reaction of coups that would bring the entire hemisphere back to the ages of the caudillos.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (March 2004) Tampering with democracy. In Bolivia, a relatively honest and competent president, Sanchez de Lozada, was denied a referendum and forced to resigne, simply because the opposition organized a wave of strikes and riots. In Venezuela, the opposition is trying to achieve the same result against Hugo Chavez, despite the fact that he won fair elections. In California, a recently elected governor, Gray Davis, was "recalled" after the people changed their mind. In Haiti, president Aristide was expelled by rioting mobs (with the complicity of France and the USA). In Spain, prime minister Jose Maria Aznar, who was widely favorite to get re-elected, lost the election a few days after Islamic terrorists carried out the largest terrorist attack in the history of the country. In Korea, president Roh Moo-hyun is impeached for something he is supposed to have done before the elections. In Taiwan, the opposition asks for a recount of the votes after president Chen Shui-bian won the election in dramatic circumstances (an attempt to his life). Last but not least, millions of Europeans have marched and are still marching in the streets to protest against the liberation of Iraq, indifferent to what the Iraqi people want.
    (In may 2004, Sonia Gandhi was basically forced by the opposition to renounce the post of prime minister of India, despite the fact that the opposition had lost the elections and Sonia Gandhi had won the majority of votes.
    There are calls for resignation of Blair and Bush, despite the fact that each enjoys support more than 50% of the population.
    There is dangerous trend in these events of 2003-04: tampering with democracy. Once a person is elected president, the opposition tries to find fault with the process or his person, so to annul the elections and get a regime change without, de facto, winning an election.
    Much of the blame must go to the Republican Party in the USA, that spent eight years trying to remove Clinton from power in un-democratic manners, and then succeeded in electing a president who did not win the majority of votes (George W Bush). That set the tone for the rest of the world, where the oppositions changed strategy in a rather dramatic way: instead of trying to regain power by winning more votes, opposition parties are now focusing on how to bring down the winner.
    Democracy is still a relatively young invention. At the end of World War II, there were only two democracies: the USA and Britain. After the fall of communism, democracy is now spreading throughout the world, but most democracies are very young and thus very fragile, more fragile than their people think.
    This trend contrasts with the majestic stability of the semi-democratic countries (Putin was re-elected without a hitch in Russia) and of the totalitarian regimes (the transition of power from Jiang Zemin resigns to Hu Jintao in China was smooth). It does not help a (democratic) country that its leaders bicker all the time and try to undermine the law of the land with all sorts of legal tricks. For the first time in decades, totalitarian regimes are benefiting from their "stability", whereas democratic regimes are suffering from the instability created by this new trend. The benefit is not only economic and financial: one has the feeling that the average citizen of Russia and China (while mostly denied a free choice) is happier with her/his regime than the average citizen of democratic countries, s/he has a more optimistic view of the future, and has a more positive attitude towards the state.
    This trend is seriously undermining the prospects for the democratic world.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (January 2004) A wish for the new year. I recently received a letter in which an anti-American had a wish for the new year: that a new source of energy be discovered, so oil would stop driving the foreign policy of the USA.
    I beg to disagree that this would make a difference.
    First of all, I disagree that the foreign policy of the USA has been mostly a mistake. On the contrary, we live in a relatively peaceful, free and wealthy world because the USA has mostly made "correct" decisions. If oil was the cause for those decisions (which I don't believe, see below), then we were lucky that the USA was driven by oil. The "bogus" democracies that the USA created around the world, from Japan to Afghanistan, from Germany to (soon) Iraq, were and are a major step forward compared with the previous regimes. (In fact, the very anti-Americans who accuse the USA of creating bogus democracies are anti-American because they live in one of those bogus democracies created by the USA after World War II, and now grown into a full-fledged democracy). Karzai is certainly a lot better than the mad and murderous Taliban, and, in fact, with any regime anywhere in that region over the last few centuries. The German, Italian and Japanese democracies are a lot more peaceful and democratic than any regime those countries have ever had since they were born. If oil is what drove the USA to create the new regime of Afghanistan and to depose Saddam Hussein, then oil is a great source of luck: the Americans come because they want the oil, kick out the Islamic fundamentalists and Saddam Hussein, install Karzai and a peaceful Iraqi council, reopen schools and build roads and hospitals. Lucky Afghans and lucky Iraqis. Most of the developing world should envy them...
    But I don't believe that oil drives the foreign policy of the USA. The anti-Americans are trying in any way to prove that Afghanistan is a key components of the American oil strategy (thus implying that the Americans invaded Afghanistan not to avenge September 11 but to achieve their nasty oil-directed goals), but the truth is that Afghanistan is quite irrelevant, especially irrelevant for oil, since there is not a single drop of oil in the whole country. It is as important for oil pipelines as any other country that hosts a pipeline, which is pretty much any country in Asia. The USA has plenty of oil, and actually imports very little, and Central Asia is a tiny drop of the world's oil production. Sad truth: if Osama had minded his own business, today the Taliban would still rule Afghanistan and nobody would care what they do, just like nobody cared for 10 years. Bush would spend most of his time walking the dog in front of the White House, and the Taliban would still be stoning women in Kabul's soccer stadium.
    The people who are obsessed with oil are not the USA presidents, but the anti-Americans, who see oil conspiracies everywhere in the world, and, unfortunately, "only" oil conspiracies (thus missing 90% of what really drives the foreign policy of the USA).
    A new source of energy would not change the discussion. The anti-Americans would simply change target: instead of seeing oil conspiracies everywhere, they would start seeing conspiracies about wind-turbines, or solar-panels, or whatever, behind any American move. The Americans help Zimbabwe get rid of Mugabe? The anti-Americans would point to some obscure mine in Zimbabwe that produces stuff needed to build solar panels. The Americans liberate Burma? The anti-Americans would point to the fact that Burma's atmosphere has a lot of hydrogen. The Americans don't depose Mugabe and don't liberate Burma? The anti-Americans would claim that the Americans tolerate those two dictatorships because somehow it helps their wind turbines or their solar panels. The problem (in this case) is not that oil causes something, but that the anti-Americans want to accuse the USA of something all the time. We have to change the anti-Americans, not the world economy.
    My wish for the new year: that anti-Americans become more concerned about the human rights of people oppressed by dictators all over the world, and pressure the USA to depose those regimes too. Not only was the "war" in Iraq the right thing to do, but the USA should do it to all totalitarian regimes that don't resign unconditionally.
    In other words, my wish is that anti-Americans switch from the right (defend all dictatorships no matter what) to the left (oppose all dictatorships no matter what); that they switch from criticizing the USA whenever it fights a dictator to criticizing the USA whenever it tolerates a dictator. Then I would become the first of the "anti-Americans".
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (September 2003) The end of free world trade?. World-trade talks broke down in Cancun in september 2003 because poor and rich countries couldn't agree on how to settle the issue of farming subsidies (Europe and the USA unfairly subsidize their farmers so that poor countries cannot export their agricultural products). This was only the last step in weakening the World Trade Organization. The World Trade Organization had already been the victim of worldwide protests by the opponents of globalization. Now it is also being undermined by its own members.
    Poor countries were absolutely right to complain. It is pointless that Europe and the US send a few million dollars in humanitarian aid to Africa while spending hundreds of millions of dollars to subsidize their rich farmers: each dollar that France or Texas gives to a rich farmer hurts the exports of a poor farmer in Africa, and causes a damage that is far bigger than the benefit of a little humanitarian aid. Besides, it is the West (Europe and the USA) that keeps boasting about the benefits of free trade: subsidizing its own farmers is a form of unfair trade. But, that said, poor countries have more to lose than rich countries. For rich countries, nothing has changed. For poor countries too, nothing has changed, but poor countries just cannot afford that nothing changes.
    If the WTO collapses, it is not clear who will be the beneficiary. Again, the USA has nothing to lose. In fact, it may gain jobs (free trade is clearly having the effect of creating jobs outside the USA at the expense of American workers). Europe is a net exporter and may have something to lose, but bilateral agreements with the USA would, de facto, still keep it in a large free-trade area. It is the very poor countries, who are excluded from most bilateral agreements and free-trade zones, who would suffer most. Opponents of the WTO do not realize that the WTO is pretty much the only organism defending the interests of poor countries.
    The USA lives with a mountain of regional and bilateral trade agreements that regulate the trade it cares for. Ditto for the European countries and for Japan. They will all be tempted to just dump the WTO (the same way the USA and Britain dumped the United Nations and invaded Iraq) and define their future economic boundaries with a more detailed set of bilateral and regional agreements.
    The funny thing is that the Bush administration and the anti-globalization protesters are now, de facto, on the same side. It's the poor countries that lose out.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (May 2003) The war in Iraq and the world media. From the beginning of the war till its (very quick) ending, the media of the world reacted in ways that probably represent and define the audiences they speak to.
    USA media were not particularly exciting. They mostly repeated the version of the facts by the USA government, and almost never questioned it. The patriotic tones of Fox News (the most pro-Bush tv in the world) was widely expected, but even CNN showed its partisan coverage by letting people like Paula Zahn (a cute anchor-woman, but not exactly a genius of foreign affairs) and Wolf Blitzer (one of the most generic and harmless reporters in the world) provide most of the information. Neither ever questioned the statements of Rumsfeld and Franks. Neither ever tried to interview local Iraqis or foreign leaders. CNN merely broadcast the war as seen from the viewpoint of the USA army.
    The Jessica Lynch story was particularly pathetic: the USA made a big deal of rescuing the (cute) female soldier, but everybody knew that there were no Iraqi soldiers in that hospital, and in fact it turns out that the doctors had repeatedly tried to deliver Lynch to the Americans (in one instance the Americans shot the ambulance that was trying to deliver Lynch to them). When the marines stormed the hospital, they only found doctors and nurses who had been taken good care of Lynch. It is a shame that the American channels simply repeated the Pentagon's ridiculous story and didn't say a single "thank you" to the Iraqi doctors who save private Lynch's life. The likes of Paula Zahn kept broadcasting images of private Lynch's liberation as if it had been a heroic adventure, and didn't bother for one second to ask the Pentagon for the entire film, which clearly show how the marines encountered no resistance inside the hospital.
    While this pro-American attitude may be explained by governmental pressions and by a patriotic sentiment, a more troubling fact is that USA reporters were often incompetent, both in history and in geography. Some of them did not seem to know what Mesopotamia is and never learned how to pronounce "Iraq". Most of them seemed to know very little about the main war that Saddam fought (no, not the war in Kuwait, which killed relatively few people, but the war against Iran, which killed one million people). There was a sense that some reporters only knew one thing: Saddam is bad. Why, what, how and where... was not really explained.
    Things were very different in Britain. The BBC (which fielded 200 reporters all over Iraq) provided timely and independent (read again: independent) reportage. They did question every statement coming from Centcom, and they did report the Iraqi version as well. For example, the USA government made a big deal of the fact that Iraqi soldiers were using guerrilla tactics and that USA prisoners were shown on tv. Paul Zahn simply repeated Rumsfeld's view that both acts were criminal. A BBC reporter pointedly mentioned that a) the Iraqi soldiers were vastly outgunned and therefore had no other way to fight the war; and b) the western media were showing hundreds (not just a few) of Iraqi prisoners on tv. BBC reporters were clearly informed about the history and geography of Iraq, and enjoyed dumping such information on the British audience.
    It is interesting that CNN International was far more objective in its coverage, often as impartial as the BBC. It also staffs more competent journalists, such as Christiane Amanpour (not as telegenic as the blonde, attractive Zahn, but quite experienced in that part of the world).
    Neither British nor American tvs showed much of the damage that was caused to civilians by the war. American media were particularly partial: while thousands of Iraqi civilians died and only a few USA soldiers died, CNN devoted hours of coverage to the relatives of USA casualties and only a few minutes to Iraqi children and women who were hospitalized with life-threatening wounds in hospitals with no electricity and no medicines. The rescue of Jessica Lynch almost became a soap opera, but the fact that eight million people in Baghdad were without water for several days was hardly known to the American audience. The most stunning moment of CNN's non-coverage probably came when the marines stormed Baghdad: the USA military claimed that thousands of Iraqi soldiers had died, but CNN did not show a single dead body. As far as CNN goes, this was a liberation war that did not kill anyone. To this day, Americans don't know how many Iraqis (both civilians and soldiers) died in the war.
    The Arab media also had a mixed record. They did show civilian casualties, but the problem is that they "only" showed civilian casualties. Both Al Jazeera and al-Arabiya indulged in scenes of horror, frequently lingering on maimed bodies. Needless to say, those images infuriated the Arab masses, which perceived the "liberation" war as a genocide. The Arab television stations hardly ever mentioned the thousands of people killed by Saddam, hardly ever showed Iraqis celebrating the liberation, hardly ever reported their views that Saddam was a butcher. On the contrary, they emphasized that some Iraqis were resisting the "invasion" and that some Iraqis were protesting in the streets. Al Jazeera was clearly pro-Saddam, going as far as to believe everything the minister of information was telling the world, even when you could see American troops from the window and the minister of information was denying their presence. At the end of the war, the Arab masses were humiliated: after being fed the story that the Iraqi people were fighting against the USA and that the USA were being defeated, the Arab masses realized that Al Jazeera had always lied and that the USA had always told the truth. Al Jazeera has hardly mentioned the mass graves discovered in Iraq. The result is that the Arab masses are largely unaware of the brutality of Saddam's regimes, and hardly aware of how much Saddam is hated by his own people: they regard both statements as American propaganda. Al Jazeera's inflamatory behavior extends, of course, to the Palestinian issue: the tv station routinely refers to suicide bombers as "martyrs" and almost never shows the Israeli victims of terrorism. Al Jazeera behaved in a similar manner during the war in Afghanistan. There is no question that several Al Jazeera executives nurture a strong anti-American sentiment. That sentiment reflects the sentiment one can pick up in the streets of any Arab capital. During the Cold War, the Arab masses were divided between pro-USA and pro-Soviet Union. After the Soviet Union collapsed, the pro-communist masses have adopted an anti-American stance, without any particular ideological connotation.
    That is strikingly similar to what is happening in Europe: the former communists have dropped their hopes for the coming of a Marxist-Leninist society, but have kept their strong anti-American sentiment, denouncing anything that the USA does as a crime against humankind. The European media (even in pro-Bush countries like Spain and Italy) were initially sympathizing with Saddam's regime and focusing on the plight of the civilian population. Only towards the end, when it became clear that the USA and Britain were winning the war and were winning it quickly, did the European media become more objective, showing the jubilant crowds and reporting on Saddam's atrocities. Their first impulse, though, was to embarrass the USA and Britain.
    All in all, it was difficult to find objective and balanced information, with the notable exception of the BBC.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (April 2003) A history lesson. For about 1500 years (from the fall of the Roman Empire to the fall of Hitler), the world was largely dominated by the "European view of the world". That view envisioned a number of century-old European powers fighting over a planet-wide battlefield. This conflict was conducted both through real wars and through diplomacy. The former involved the use of military power, the latter involved a complex mechanism of negotiations, alliances, threats and bluffs.
    Unaware of the "European view of the world", in 1945 the USA invaded Europe and created a new order. The new order was created to look like the USA itself: a democratic constitution was set in place in every country of western Europe and the European powers were forced to become friends (after 15 centuries of endless fighting). The USA discarded the European view of the world as an unnecessary and obsolete complication, but that view survived throughout the next three decades because the USA found itself entangled in a "cold war" against the Soviet Union, a conflict that reminded Europeans of the old European conflicts. Unwillingly, the USA was dragged into accepting the European view of the world, with only two superpowers replacing the old, messy web of European powers.
    The USA disposed of that situation too, in 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed. That collapse was brought about by another "barbaric" act of the USA: ignoring the European view of the world, during the 1980s the USA pursued a policy of sheer military build-up. While masses of hysterical Europeans were complaining that this was going to destroy the world, the USA continued to stand by its principles and by its might, and, surprise, eventually the USA won.
    In 2003 the European view of the world is being tested one more time by the USA. European politicians are more hysterical than ever because the USA ignored the good old principles of European diplomacy. They now predict that the war in Iraq will bring about colossal instability and all sorts of catastrophes. The USA has ignored their view of the world and proceeded to simply restate its principles and its might.
    1945, 1991 and 2003 are three historic dates. Each of them contributed to changing the way the world works. European pessimists have been proven wrong the first two times. After 1945, western Europe became the most peaceful place in the world: it had been at war for 1,500 years. After 1991, the whole of Europe (western and eastern) became peaceful, something that had never happened before in history. As those countries became peaceful, they also became prosperous.
    In 2001 the USA was told that no power since Alexander the Great (2,300 years earlier) had managed to conquer Afghanistan. It would be difficult, if not impossible, they said. The Soviet Union, after all, had failed after a ten-year attempt and one million dead Afghans. Surprise: it took the USA only two months to achieve what had been deemed impossible by European historians and politicians.
    As the USA prepared to wage war against Saddam Hussein, European politicians, historians and intellectuals at large predicted that the USA would get stuck in a lengthy, nasty war in Iraq. After two weeks, the USA was already storming Baghdad.
    The USA has obviously changed the rules of the game, and many Europeans obviously fail to realize it. Many Europeans are still hung on their view of the world, whereas the USA gladly and naively trampled over that view without much regard for the lessons of (European) history.
    The same Europeans now warn the USA to stop and go home, as their view of the world commands. But that view has been consistently wrong. Maybe the USA should do just the opposite: continue its "invasion" (for example, towards Syria) and stay for a long time.
    One lesson the USA should learn from ancient European history is that the barbarians who fought the Roman empire did not hate the Roman empire: they hated the fact that the Romans did not want them, the barbarians, to become part of it. Today's Arabs (and peoples of the world in general) are in a very similar mood. They criticize everything the USA does, but want to become part of the USA. Where France and Britain forced regions of the world to become part of their Empires, the USA is very reluctant to expand its borders and to admit anyone into its borders. The USA resembles the Roman empire at its peak, not the European colonial powers of the last 1,500 years.
    The Roman empire eventually fell, conquered by the same barbarians whom the Romans did not want to have as fellow citizens. The USA should learn this lesson, and this lesson only: do not let anyone out.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (March 2003) Nuclear Power in the World . We have no more than 20 years of oil left on this planet (See Oil reserves and consumption). In 20 years the world will be ruled by the countries that can survive without oil. Most likely, these are the countries that invested in nuclear energy, because it is unlikely that a new source of energy is developed in just 20 years.
    In 2000 there were over 440 commercial nuclear reactors in 31 countries, capable of producing over 350,000 MWe, equivalent to about 16% of the world's electricity (Nuclear Issues Briefing Paper 7).
    France depends on nuclear power for almost 80% of its electricity. Among major countries, it is by far the number one nuclear country. An increase of $10 a barrel in the price of oil causes an increase of only 2% in the price of French electricity.
    All the other major countries of the world depend less than 50% on nuclear power. Japan's dependency is about 35%. Germany's is about 32%. Britain's is about 27%. In the USA, nuclear energy accounts for only 20% of electricity. Among major countries, only Italy does not depend at all on nuclear power. An increase of $10 a barrel in the price of oil causes an increase of about 35% in the price of Italian electricity.
    Because of the huge amount of electricity required by the USA economy, the USA still accounts for nearly one third of the world's nuclear electricity.
    Unlike oil, uranium is plentiful: 34 thousand tonnes a year. Canada is the world's leading supplier of uranium with about 11,000 tonnes. Other suppliers: Australia 4,885, Niger 3,731, Namibia 2,762, Russia 2,000 , Uzbekistan 2,000, USA 1,872, Kazakhstan 1,250, South Africa 962, Gabon 731, Czech Republic 610, France 508, China 500, Ukraine 500, Spain: 255, India: 200. (Source: Vital Statistics).
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (March 2003) World War III?. France and Britain have been rivals since at least the "Hundred Years' War" that started in 1337. After winning the ""Seven Years' War" in 1763 (which was really the first world war and which moved Canada and India into the British sphere of influence), Britain has been the stronger of the two. After Britain defeated Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815 (the last time that France tried to claim the scepter of Europe), Britain and France have been on the same side: in 1827 against the Ottomans, in 1853 against Russia, in 1914 and 1945 against Germany. So 2003 is a historical date for Europe: Britain and France are again opposed (although they are not shooting at each other): Britain wants to remove Saddam Hussein, whereas France wants to keep him in power.
    The conflict at the United Nations was really just a conflict between these two old powers. The USA had said from the beginning what it wanted to do, and was not all that interested in what the United Nations thought of it. Britain made a strategic choice: to go with the USA. And since Britain believes in the United Nations, it convinced the USA to ask for United Nations approval before any military action. France decided to go against the USA. History has often allied France and Russia against the "central empires": this was no exception.
    The underlying visions of Europe are very different. Blair sees Europe as the homeland of democracy, and sees the USA has the main guarantor of democracy in the world: therefore Europe must always be united with the USA, no matter what. As Churchill said: "Never get separated from the USA". And, as Churchill also said: "The USa always does the right thing... eventually". Blair is not willing to compromise with dictators. Blair's vision is that the world needs one unified block of democratic powers to guarantee peace, democracy and stability. This vision is shared by most people in the Anglosaxon world, which, after all, descend from a common ancestor: the British empire.
    Chirac's vision is based on DeGaulle's geography: France extends from Portugal to the border with Russia, and from Germany to north Africa. This great French empire is the other pole of international order. Throughout the crisis at the United Nations, Chirac and his foreign minister have always spoken of France as if they were speaking of the entire European Union (so much so that many Americans believe the entire European Union is against the war with Iraq), if not for the entire world. Having one superpower is a bad thing (unless, of course, the superpower were France, but, alas, that is not the case). That is why Chirac maintains a nuclear arsenal that is about three times the American one (as percentage of the country's population) or ten times the American one (as percentage of the country's size). That is why Chirac detonated a nuclear bomb on the atoll of Muroroa (very far from France) and why he became the best friend of Saddam, Qaddafi, Assad, etc. In order to create another superpower, Chirac is willing to compromise with Putin (the butcher of Chechnya) and with China (a dictatorship that still occupies Tibet and Turkestan). Chirac's vision is that the world needs two blocks, not one, to guarantee peace, democracy and stability. This vision is shared by the peoples of all the failed powers of the past: Germans, Italians, Russians, Chinese, Arabs, etc.
    Blair and Chirac followed their visions to the logical consequences. Blair ignored the European Union: he took for granted that everybody would follow the USA. Chirac ignored the USA: he took for granted that the USA would follow everybody else. The consequence of Blair's attitude was that most Europeans sided with Chirac (one of the most unpopular leaders in Europe). The consequence of Chirac's attitude was that the USA demolished the European Union and the United Nations (two institutions that were created by the USA).
    In the short term, Blair will lose his job over this war despite the success of his economic policies, whereas Chirac and his allies (Schroeder and Putin) will keep their posts thanks to this war and despite all their ecnomic failures. This, of course, is more evidence (if needed) that European politicians are much more cynical and selfish than British politicians. Machiavelli was born in Florence, not in London.
    Not much will change for the USA: they were and they will remain a superpower, reluctant to police the world but forced to do so by destiny.
    A lot will change for the one power that keeps the lowest profile: China. If the United Nations are reformed, France and Britain are likely to lose some of their power (why should they have veto power if much larger countries such as India do not have veto power?) which will result in increased power for China, whose economy is growing faster than France's and Britain's combined. Eventually, the European successors of Chirac and Blair will have to make a simple choice: to become a colony of China or a colony of the USA.
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  • (February 2003) Europeans march for peace. Millions of Europeans marched in the streets on February 16 to protest against the USA plan to remove Saddam Hussein with force.
    How many Europeans marched in front of the Iraqi embassy to protest against Saddam Hussein's dictatorship? Not one.
    Those Europacifists enjoy their right to march in the streets and to vent their opposition to war (a right that they have because the USA defeated first Hitler and Mussolini, and then the Soviet Union), but do not seem to be interested in granting the Iraqi people the same right to march in the streets.
    One would be more reassured if the same millions of Europacifists had marched against Saddam Hussein (and against the rest of today's dictators), and would march against Saddam Hussein until he is finally removed, arrested and tried, instead of marching only when someone, at last, is trying to depose him.
    The rest of the world should also pause and ponder about the lessons of the 20th century: whenever Europeans marched in the streets, catastrophe followed. Millions of Italians marched on Rome to install Mussolini, millions of Germans marched at Hitler's parades, millions of Russians marched on Petrograd and helped Lenin create communism. Millions of French, Germans and Italians marched in 1968, and those marches spawned terrorist organizations.
    The rest of the world should be wary of Europeans marching in the streets. Last century their marches caused the deaths of about 100 million humans.
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  • (January 2003) The Iraqi crisis is reshaping the world alliances. The crisis over Saddam Hussein may represent the beginning of a historical realignment of alliances. Geopolitics was for 50 years monopolized by the Cold War, with countries choosing the USA every time they could. The USA had an easy time collecting allies all over the world, particularly where the danger of communism was stronger. Now that the Cold War is over and the Soviet Union does not exist anymore, many of the allies of the USA turn out to feel little or no love for the USA. It is time for a new American geopolitics.
    The "pax americana" has provided 60 years of peace in western Europe, with unprecedented prosperity and freedom, as well as the economic booms of Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, etc. Today these two parts of the world (the "US allies") are the ones that most resent USA intervention, despite the fact that USA intervention is the very reason that they are wealthy and free. All these "USA allies", to some extent, want the USA to leave. The problem is that this would cause an immediate economic collapse: which businessman would trust South Korea or Japan without USA protection against China and North Korea? Who would trust a European Union that cannot even sort out the crisis in Yugoslavia without the USA? The USA has been "incubating" these democracies for 60 years. More and more people in these countries feel that they could now survive without the USA: the Europacifists defend all sorts of dictators (apparently for the only reason that they are anti-American), South Korea blames the USA (not North Korea) for its divided status, and Japan resents that there are still USA soldiers on its soil.
    There is no question that, between the fall of the Berlin wall and the September 2001 terrorist attacks, a great deal of psychology has changed. Germany, which used to be the most fervent NATO member because of the threat of the Soviet Union, is now a safe, secure and peaceful country, that has virtually nothing to fear from anyone. The USA, on the other hand, has learned the hard way that it is vulnerable. Now that it feels safe, it is only natural that Germany does not care about NATO anymore. NATO becomes a liability, not an assett: during the Cold War NATO was useful to defend west German freedom, but now it is becoming an obligation that can drag Germany into unwanted wars. The situation is reversed for the USA: NATO used to be a way to defend other countries threatened by communism, but now it is mainly a way to defend the USA against enemies that want to strike within the USA itself. It is not surprising that Germans do not feel as excited to defend the USA as they were to defend their own land.
    France has been largely irrelevant since the end of the Cold War, an ally that was always embarrassing (France started the two bloodiest colonial wars of all times, Algeria and Vietnam, and supported all sorts of crazy African dictators) and that the USA does not need anymore. But France is finding a new role as the "soul" of the European Union. If you read French newspapers, you would think that the European Union was founded by France alone (there were six founders). France opposed the admission of Turkey in the European Union. France treats the new European members as colonies (it hardly consults with them on matters that affect all of Europe). In other words, France is reinventing itself: it used to be a colonial power, then it was granted nuclear-power status by the USA, and now it is trying to remain a power by being the political center of the European Union (if you ever visit the European Parliament, you will notice that all signs are in French).
    If the Cold War allies of the USA are rapidly becoming hostile to the USA, the faithful allies of the USA today are increasingly to be found among the former communist countries (including Russia itself, but especially Poland, Uzbekistan, etc), India (that shares the US fear of Islamic fundamentalists), some new democracies (Timor, Afghanistan), south America and the Christian part of Africa.
    The USA should disengage from Europe, Japan and South Korea: let them learn how to defend themselves.
    In other words, the conflict between the USA and Saddam Hussein may have unforeseen but deep consequences on the system of world alliances. It has already created a split within the European Union: Italy, Spain, Portugal, Denmark, Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary and Britain favor war, while France and Germany are strongly opposed. If we go to war and we win the war, France and Germany will look like big-time losers within the European Union itself, and it is hard to imagine how could they continue to provide the moral leadership of the Union as they have done in the past. They will become largely irrelevant. If, on the other hand, we do not go to war, France and Germany will look like the winners, and France in particular will have reaffirmed its status as a world power. The crisis could even separate the two, as Chirac (Mr Ambiguity) is more likely to turn around and join the USA, whereas Schroeder has said clear and loud that Germany will never join the war. This scenario would create a crack between France and Germany that would compromise the French-German engine of European integration.
    At the same time, the US should develop stronger ties with the former communist countries, with Africa, with Russia itself, with Latin America, and stop worrying about the old allies. Why not listen to what the people want?
    Outside Europe, Iraq is yet another opportunity for USA-Russian cooperation. Just like the invasion of Afghanistan turned out to be in the interest of both countries, the invasion of Iraq could benefit Putin (where Muslims are vastly unpopular because of Chechnyan terrorism) as well as Bush. Iraq could also represent another sign of warming up between China and the USA. China has tacitly approved the US war on terrorism, and, in return, the USA has listed anti-Chinese groups as terrorists. Something similar could happen with Iraq: China approving the invasion of Iraq in return for USA pressions on Taiwan.

    February 2002 line-up:
    The pro-Saddam axis: Germany, France, Belgium, Russia
    The Allies: USA, Britain, Australia, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Denmark, Turkey, former Soviet republics, former Yugoslavia republics, various Arab regimes, Israel, Pakistan, Afghanistan
    Neutral: Japan, Brazil, India, Mexico, China, Iran, various Arab regimes

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  • (October 2002) Freedom of the press and remnants of fascism. The USA is disturbingly low in the list compiled by "Reporters sans Frontieres": it is only the 17th free-est country in the world for newspapers. The free-est countries are Finland, Iceland, Norway, Holland, Canada, Ireland, Germany, Portugal and Sweden, which are basically all at the same level. France and the USA are behind this group. Italy comes out 40th, behind African and Eastern European countries. The Arab countries are dead last, as Islam commands. Read the French article
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  • (October 2002) Who has weapons of mass destruction:
    1. USA: the Start-3 treaty limits the nuclear stockpile to 2,500; the second largest chemical stockpile, about 30,000 tons in 1996 being slowly destroyed; no biological weapons since 1972 but in 2001 it has refused to ratify the protocol for verification; capability to strike anywhere in the world; working on a missile shield to protect its territory ("Star Wars")
    2. Russia: pledged to reduce its nuclear arsenal to 1,500 warheads; the largest arsenal of chemical weapons but willing to destroy it since 1997 except that the USA has refused help; claims no biological weapons since 1992 but evidence that they created to one ton of smallpox (see this article); capability to strike anywhere in the world;
    3. France: 482 nuclear warheads in 2000; capability to strike anywhere in the world; a secret stockpile of smallpox was half admitted in november 2002;
    4. China: 434 nuclear warheads in 2000; admitted to having some chemical weapons in 1997; inherited Japan's biological weapons program at the end of the war; capability to strike anywhere in the world;
    5. Britain: 200 nuclear warheads; abandoned biological weapons in 1959; capability to strike anywhere in the world;
    6. Israel: 100 nuclear warheads (nuclear technology from France); chemical and biological weapons; capability to strike anywhere in Asia or Europe; working on a missile shield to protect its territory ("Star Wars") (See also CNS's report)
    7. India: 60 nuclear warheads; admitted having chemical weapons in 1997; capability to strike only in Asia;
    8. North Korea: since 1993 the reactor at Yogbyon can produce plutonium for five nuclear weapons a year (North Korea admitted its nuclear program in october 2002); large stockpile of chemical weapons; possibly the largest stockpile of biological weapons in the world (including one of the four stockpiles of smallpox in the world), which it has tested on its own islands; long-range ballistic missile that could strike as far as California;
    9. Syria: substantial stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, but biological agents are not weaponized and the range of its missiles is very short (see this report);
    10. Iraq: its nuclear program at Al Atheer was destroyed in 1992 by United Nations inspectors (see the Iraqi nuclear program); four tons of chemical weapons are still unaccounted for; 20,000 litres of biological weapons (largest stockpile in the world, enough to exterminate most of the USA population) are still unaccounted for; missiles with very limited range (only the Middle East) [in april 2003, Saddam Hussein's regime was overthrown by the USA]
    11. Iran: Israel believes that Iran has stolen nuclear weapons from Kazakstan, but nuclear inspections (conducted yearly by the IAEA) have revealed no violations of the non-proliferation treaty since 1992; international inspections have found no chemical weapons since 1997; some biological agents but probably not weaponized; its missiles can only strike the Middle East;
    12. Pakistan: claims to have 48 nuclear warheads (and fissile material to build 52 more), but probably unusable because of the short range of its missiles;
    13. Cuba: biological weapons; no missile capabilities
    14. Libya: has tried to acquire nuclear weapons; likely to have chemical weapons; likely to have biological weapons; very short-range missiles [in december 2003, it announced it will dismantle all programs]

    Nuclear powers: 1. USA, 2. Russia, 3. France, 4. China, 5. Britain
    Arms Control Association estimates: United States: 7,295 deployed strategic warheads; Russia: 6,094 deployed strategic warheads; France: Less than 500 strategic warheads; China: About 300 strategic warheads; United Kingdom: Less than 200 strategic warheads.
    In december 2005, Nobel Prize winner ElBaradei estimated the existence of "27,000" nuclear warheads"
    Chemical powers: 1. Russia, 2. USA, 3. North Korea, 4. Iraq, 5. Libya/Israel
    Biological powers: 1. Iraq, 2. North Korea, 3. Cuba, 4. Libya, 5. Israel

    Notes:

    • The number of nuclear warheads in the world in the year 2002 is estimated at 10,000, because both the USA and Russia still have to achieve the reductions they promised, and the other nuclear countries have about 1,300 warheads.
    • Russia built 250 suitcase bombs, but 100 have disappeared. Russia has never clearly explained what happened to them, possibly because the current regime does not know. Some rumours have it that those 100 suitcase bombs are hidden in western countries (sort of a modern variation on the landmine); some rumours have it that terrorists or rogue states bought them from former Soviet scientists.
    • The USA unilaterally destroyed its biological weapons starting in 1970, Russia cheated for 20 years but Yeltsin finally destroyed them in 1992
    • 1997 is the year when most countries signed the treaty against chemical weapons and opened its facilities to international inspections
    • Israel owns the largest arsenal of weapons of mass destruction per inhabitant. Israel is working on a "Star Wars" system (jointly with the USA). De facto, Israel could soon become the second military power in the world.
    • Ironically, the very reason that Iraq (and anyone else) could develop its biological weapons goes back to a decision taken by the USA in 1991 (George Bush senior) to oppose verification of the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention (the USA was joined by Iran and Iraq). After ten years of negotiations, on July 25, 2001, the USA announced that it would not ratify the protocol for verification of the Biological Weapons Convention (one of the many international agreements that the George W Bush administration has refused to sign). How ironic that, only two months later, terrorists attacked the USA and people started dying of anthrax (See this paper).

    A note on nuclear testing

    France is the only country that has consistently tested in the territory of other countries, against the will of those countries.

    The USA conducted 1030 tests (215 atmospheric, 815 underground). First Nuclear Test: 16 July 1945, Alamogordo, New Mexico. Last Nuclear Test: 23 September 1993, National Test Site, Nevada. Present nuclear test site: National Test Site, Nevada. Other nuclear test sites: New Mexico, Mississippi, Colorado, Alaska, Johnston Atoll, Eniwetok Atoll, Bikini Atoll, Christmas Island.

    The Soviet Union carried out 715 tests (207 atmospheric, 508 underground). First nuclear test: 29 August 1949, somewhere in Russian Asia. Last nuclear test: 25 October 1990, Novaya Zemlya. Present nuclear test site: Novaya Zemlya. Other nuclear test sites: Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan.

    France conducted 210 tests (50 atmospheric, 160 underground). First nuclear test: 13 February 1960, Reggane, Algeria. Last nuclear test: 27 January 1996, Moruroa atoll, South Pacific. Other nuclear test sites: Algeria, Moruroa atoll, Fangataufa atoll.

    Britain carried out only 45 tests (21 atmospheric, 24 underground). First nuclear test: 3 October 1952, Monte Bello Islands, Australia. Last nuclear test: 26 November 1991, Nevada, USA. Present nuclear test site: National Test Site, Nevada, USA. Other nuclear test sites: Australia, Christmas Island, Malden Island.

    China conducted 43 tests to date (23 atmospheric, 20 underground). First nuclear test: 16 October 1964, Lop Nor. Last nuclear test: 16 August 1996. Present nuclear test site: Lop Nor.

    India's first nuclear test occurred on 18 May 1974, in Rajastan. Last nuclear test: May 1998. Present nuclear test site: Rajasthan.


    Sources:

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  • (September 2002) What is wrong with the United Nations:
    1. The majority of countries represented at the United Nations are totalitarian regimes. It is not surprising that the United Nations Organization tends to side with dictators: no dictator wants another dictator to be punished, because he could be next. On the other hand, a democratic country such as Taiwan is not represented.
    2. Five countries (USA, Russia, France, Britain, China) have veto rights and a permanent seat in the United Nations council: why those five countries? Why France (60 million people) and not India (one billion people) or Brazil (200 million people)? Why China, which is a dictatorship and not even a legitimate country, and not, for example, Holland, which is a model of democracy and tolerance? Why not Germany, Italy and Japan? If the losers of World War II have to be punished forever, why not punish the loser of the Cold War or, for that matter, the loser of the One Hundred Year War or the loser of the Vietnam War?
    3. The United Nations Organization represents "regimes", not "nations". The Kurdish nation, for example, is not represented, because the Kurdish land has been split among Iran, Iraq and Turkey. The uighurs of Turkestan (today's Xinjian) are represented by the Chinese, which are their historical enemies. Ditto for Native Americans (Navajo, Sioux, Cheyenne, etc), who are represented by the Americans who destroyed them. Ditto for the Quechua of South America, who do not have a country. Nations that have been invaded (such as Tibet and Western Sahara, or Lithuania, Estonia, Ukrainia and Lettonia in the old Soviet days) are not represented.
    4. Oppositions are not represented. I did not vote for this president, therefore I am not represented at the United Nations. It turns out that the majority of Americans did not vote for this president, so the majority of Americans are not represented. Opposition parties who lost the elections by 1% are not represented at the United Nations at all. Opposition parties who cannot win an election in totalitarian countries are not represented at all. The United Nations is an organization of "governments", not of "nations": the vast majority of the world's population is not represented at the United Nations.
    5. Last but not least... The independent island of Nauru (20,000 people) counts as one. India (one billion people) counts as one. The will of one billion Indians matters as much as the will of 20,000 Nauruans, i.e. each Nauruan is 50,000 times more important than an Indian. A little unfair, isn't it?
    6. Note of in April 2003: Libya (whose dictator Qaddafi is one of the longest-serving dictators in the world) was chairing the Human Rights Commission of the United Nations, and Cuba (whose dictator Castro is "the" longest-serving dictator in the world) was admitted as a member of the same Human Rights Commission. This well represents the state of the United Nations: Qaddafi and Castro taking care of human rights around the world.
    It is about time that the United Nations Organization be replaced by a more relevant organization. The European Union has provided an interesting model: only democratic countries are allowed to join the club of European nations. Why a country has to be civilized and democratic in order to join the European Union while even cannibal dictators are allowed to join the United Nations?
    The new United Nations Organization should be empowered with some real military and economic power, and voting rights should be proportional to population rather than to nuclear arsenals. At the same time, democracy should be a requirement for membership in this Organization.
    Needless to say, any reform of the United Nations Organization will be boycotted by two kinds of countries: 1. all the dictatorships (including China) that would not qualify for membership, and 2. France, whose status as a world power will disappear the moment its veto power at the United Nations disappears.

    (Addition of february 2003, taken from The real problem is Chirac, not Saddam).
    Today, France's status as a "power" is a paradox: a small country with a small population, that lost World War II twice (first against the Germans and then against the Allies) and lost the colonial wars in the 1950s (Algeria and Vietnam), but that still has a permanent seat with veto power on the Security Council of the United Nations. India (one billion people, the size of Europe, nuclear arsenal) does not enjoy that status. Indonesia (200 million people), Brazil, Pakistan (another nuclear power), etc etc do not enjoy that privilege. What makes France so special? Nothing. That "is" the point: there is no reason why France should still be considered a world power. The Iraqi crisis is France's last-ditch attempt to remain a power.
    Countries such as Spain and Poland have no "power" status to defend, so they have no problem admitting what is quite obvious: Saddam is bad and must go. But for Chirac that statement is equivalent to "France will lose the only oil it can count on, and will become irrelevant in the future".
    This logic was already valid twenty years ago. What has changed? Many things: Russia has become a friend, not an enemy, of the USA; China has become the second economic power in the world; many European countries have become democracies; regional powers such as India, Nigeria, South Africa, Pakistan have become more relevant than the old European colonial powers in taking care of regional affairs.
    The United Nations as it is today is an aberration, and France is the biggest aberration within the aberration (the same logic applies to Britain, but Britain is sort of representing the Commonwealth, whereas France is truly only representing itself, its former colonies being either very small or very anti-French).
    A good way to make sure that the world is never again held hostage by France's political and economic interests is to dissolve the United Nations and to create a new organization (the United Democratic Nations), that will include only democracies and that will distribute power based on population. Decisions within this organization will be taken by majority vote and will have binding power for all members. In other words, the principle behind the European parliament. (If the European Union does not accept countries that are not democratic, why should the United Nations? If France has no veto power on the European continent, why should it have veto power on the rest of planet Earth?)
    If such an organization existed today, the vote of India would be about 20 times more important than the vote of France. Has any major newspaper in the world reported the opinion of the democratically-elected Indian government the same way they report (daily) Chirac's opinion? Why not? Why does the opinion of one billion Indian people matter zero and the opinion of 60 million French matter so much?
    Has any major newspaper in the world reported the opinion of the governments of Latin America? Why not? Why does the opinion of an entire continent matter zero and the opinion of France matter so much?

    See also what is wrong with the USA.

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  • (July 2001) The submerging economies. Since 1985, the dollar has risen in real value against the currencies of the top 50 economies in the world. Over the last few years, it has risen 40% against the euro and 10% against the yen, which are supposed to be the second and third strongest currencies in the world. The euro and the yen appear extremely weak, if one considers that the US is in the middle of an economic slump, that the US stock market has lost value and that interest rates are much better in Europe; and, still, investors would rather buy dollars. Imagine what will happen when the US economy starts growing again.
    What could happen is very simple: the euro and the yen and every other currency in the world will simply collapse down to zero. Eventually, nobody will want any other currency than the dollar. After all, why would anybody want to hold euros or yens, when it is becoming so easy to buy things in dollars (especially with credit cards and on the Internet) and when an investment in dollars tends to be much more profitable than an investment in euros or yens?
    It is hard to picture a scenario in which anybody would rather hold euros or yens than dollars. Let's face it: the only reason Italians will use euros is because the prices are in euros. There is no other reason. The first Roman restaurant that starts posting prices in dollars will create an avalanche: there is no reason why anybody should refrain from using the dollar as the currency of choice.
    This scenario would not be so bad, as the life of tourists and businessmen would get much easier. (De facto, this is already happening, as Europeans and Japanese always use dollars when they travel for pleasure or business). The problem is that the US would control the world's economies: any change in US interest rates would immediately affect the whole world. (De facto, this is already happening, as stock markets around the world react strongly to Alan Greenspan's decisions and weakly to their own financial authorities).
    On the other hand, there is a reason why the world should adopt the dollar as soon as possible: every year that goes by, America gets richer and the rest of the world gets poorer. Thanks to the strong dollar, today New York's economy is one of the top 10 economies in the world, and California is the fifth world power. If the dollar's rise continues and spirals out of control, California will soon challende Japan for second place. A medium-size city in the US will outperfom the entire country of Belgium. The situation will get much worse than it was during the Roman empire or the European colonial era, with a center (the US) that is unbelievably rich and a periphery that can hardly afford to buy a software program. Better accept the inevitable and shift right away to the dollar, abandoning euros and yens.
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  • (June 2001) Bush and the European dwarves. Bush is visiting Europe and what a pathetic sight it is: Bush stumbles on almost every subject, delivers looks worth of a comedian, makes mistakes that would make a first-grader blush. But even more pathetic is the spectable of the European leaders (there is one leader of the United States, but there are countless leaders of the European Union). These are a bunch of sedate, senile, dozing off politicians, whose names very few remember (how many foreigners can name the leader of Austria, Sweden or even Germany?), whose countries used to be important but now are hard to find on the map. Their economies are a mess. Their currencies are worth so little that even European tourists travel with dollars. All those countries have huge budget deficits. Inflation in Europe is probably at least 3.5% (twice what they claim). Their ministers of finances have only one very simple job: monthly revise downwards all economic forecasts. The rule is: no matter how bad last year was, this year will be worse. But you must always start the year by promising growth and jobs. And of course make sure to mention that Europe will outperform the US. During the year your job is to revise those estimates downwards, a little bit at a time. By the end of the year, you will admit that the US outperformed Europe and that the European economy is still stagnating. Oh, also make sure to claim that the European economy does not depend on the American economy, only to blame an American slowdown for the much bigger European slowdown that follows. Charlie Chaplin could not build more hilarious characters. The fact that all these Schroeders and Chiracs and Berlusconis and Blairs look so pathetic in front of such a pathetic president as Bush, the fact that they make Bush look like a giant, is the ultimate evidence that Europe is no longer a leader of anything.
    One wonders that US presidents still waste time and money visiting the "leaders" of the European Union. Bush was right to visit Mexico first: Mexico looks like a political and economic giant compared with these pathetic remnants of empires.
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  • (May 2001) The corporations who run the world. (Data from the Institute for Policy Studies). If you consider the largest corporations of the world as separate countries, then of the 100 largest economies in the world, 51 are corporations. If you consider the top 200 corporations of the world (82 of them being American and 41 Japanese), their revenues are growing 25% faster than the world' economy (i.e., their share of the world's economy is steadily increasing). Those top 200 corporations make more money in a year than 170 of the world's countries combined together. The world has six billion people, but only less than sixty million work for those top 200 corporations that account for so much of the world's economy. The top world employer is Wal-Mart, with 1.140.000 workers (second is Daimler-Chrysler, with 466.938). The world's largest corporation (based on revenues) is General Motors.
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  • (March 2001) The US reneges on Kyoto: idiot or savant? Click here for this article.
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  • (September 2000) The IMF and the World Bank must pay. The IMF and the World Bank have caused damage to many developing countries and must be made to pay for it. They are run by the US and assume that the US is the correct model for the rest of the world, in particular in reducing welfare programs to the minimum. This has caused great distress to millions of people around the world who live below the level of poverty. It also turns out that most people on this planet, from Germany to Africa, like welfare programs, even if it costs more taxes. Let Americans live with no health care and no unemployment benefits. The rest of the world has a life.
    For example, capitalism has not helped countries that used to be part of the Soviet Union. Their highly sophisticated public health systems, transportation infrastructure and educational systems have been devastated. They have been replaced by alcoholism, prostitution, suicide, drugs, AIDS and crime. The "reforms" advocated by the World Bank favored a class of corrupt politicians.

  • (September 2000) The oil crisis will only get worse. In the long run, the oil crisis will only get worse. The US Department of Energy estimates that global oil consumption will rise from 2000's level of 77 million barrels a day (19 million alone for the USA) to 110 million in 2020, i.e. the world will use up 670 billion barrels by 2020, which is about two thirds of known reserves. See the statistics on oil reserves and consumption.
    Oil resources are increasing only mildly, while demand for oil is increasing rapidly both in developed and developing countries. If western economies keep growing and third-world countries keep developing, the world will need orders of magnitude more oil than it consumes today. If China alone ever consumes as much oil per capita as the US does, precious little oil will be left for the rest of the world. Due to the law of supply and demand, prices will skyrocket. Eventually, there just won't be enough oil for everybody. Oil will become a scarcer and scarcer resource and there is not much that the world can do about it.
    Countries that own that oil have all the rights to increase the prices as much as they can, just like any other company in the capitalist world advocated by the West.
    Countries that opted for dismissing nuclear energy will pay a high price for their presumption. See the statistics on nuclear energy (OECD 2002). Nuclear energy is the only form of energy that can guarantee sustained progress and development for the whole planet. Without nuclear energy, the planet is almost certainly bound for a series of economic crises and a world war for control of oil routes and sources.
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  • (September 2000) The euro is not a currency, it is a guaranteed loss. What would happen to the dollar if, instead of one president, the US has eleven presidents, and some of them leaders of small or poor states? It would almost certainly plunge. Nobody would trust such a currency. That's what the Euro has been doing. Europe is a weird federation of non-federated countries. There is no head of Europe, even if there is a money of Europe.
    Instead of one president saying something silly every now and then, Europe has eleven presidents and prime ministers issuing alarming and counterproductive statements. The chances that all of them shut up at the same time are slim.
    Add the chronic delay of European monoliths to adopt modern technologies that improve productivity, and one really wonders who in heaven will ever invest in the euro. At best, European economies will trail the US economy, growing a little when the US economy grows a lot, and collapsing the moment the US economy slows down. European politicians claim that economic growth will help boast the euro: but that economic growth will occur only if the US economy is growing, and will never surpass US growth.
    The problem is further complicated by the new dynamics of currencies: it is not interest rates that drives the value of a currency, it's the appeal of the stock market. The euro is in a lose-lose situation: if the US stock market does well, then people want to invest in the US, i.e. they sell euros and buy dollars; if the US stock market does not do well, then European stock markets crash, and then people would still rather invest in the US, i.e. they still sell euros and buy dollars. Why invest in euros when the fortune of the euro depends on the dollar?
    Theoretically, there is no limit to how low the euro could fall.
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  • (June 2000) Rewriting World War II. The victors write the history, as the adage goes. This was so true of World War II: since 1945, millions of children have studied a history that is grossly distorted by the view of the winning powers.
    Now that the Soviet Union (one of the victors) has disappeared and its secret archives are open, the world can finally begin to restore the truth. Now that British and American "revisionists" are beginning to be taken seriously, one can also begin to tell the truth about the other side of the massacre.
    First of all, there were two wars that took place simultaneously in Europe: one was Germany's agression of its neighbors, and one was the Soviet Union's aggression of its neighbors. These wars intersected each other so that one of the aggressors (Soviet Union) was also one of the victims, but at the beginning it is fairly obvious to any objective observer that Hitler and Stalin simply decided to split Europe between the two of them, and used ruthless methods to achieve their goals.
    At the end of the war, instead, the victims of the Soviet Union were listed as victims of Germany, simply because the Soviet Union had won and thus annexed its own victims, which thus became automatically victors and not victims of the real aggressor (the Soviet Union), but victims of the loser (Germany). The West tacitly accepted Stalin's view of the war due, mostly, to a racist attitude by Western Europeans and Americans to discount Ukrainians, Lithuanians, etc as inferior peoples (the same way that Gypsies are routinely omitted from any census of the holocaust). Of course, it also mattered that the Soviet Union had killed two million Germans and thus contributed crucially to ending the war.
    History must be rewritten not as "Germany and its allies vs Germany's enemies" but as two wars: 1. Germany and its allies against its enemies (Poland, Britain, USA), and 2. the Soviet Union against its enemies (Poland, Finland, Ukraine, Lithuania, Ukraine, Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria, Japan). Both the first and the second camp look messy because several countries switched sides: France was with Britain, then with Germany, then with Britain again; Italy was with Germany but then with the USA; the Soviet Union itself was with Germany at the beginning but then became one of its victims (admittedly, the only case of a country that switched sides not because of opportunistic calculations but because of the aggressor's moves).

    Then there was a war of aggression that took place in the Far East, i.e., Japan attacking first China and then the western empires (British, Dutch, American and French colonies). And, finally, there was an attack on the British Empire by Italy in North and East Africa.

    The most appalling case of distortion of the facts of World War II is the number of casualties "credited" to the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union (meaning: all the republics that were eventually declared part of the Soviet Union) lost 25 million people during the war, of which nine million were soldiers and 16 million were civilians. However, that number includes Russian civilians "as well as" non-Russian civilians of the other Soviet republics. Statistics tend to count the people killed by the Soviet Union inside the borders of the Soviet Union (i.e., Ukrainians, Lithuanians, etc) as if they had been killed by Hitler's troops, when they were in fact many of them were killed by Stalin's troops. For example, Ukraine (technically, a republic of the Soviet Union) suffered the greatest loss of human lives in the entire Europe (six million soldiers, four million civilians and 600,000 Jews), but many of them were killed by the Soviet army not by the German army. Both the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) and the Galicia Division (or Divizia) fought against both Hitler and Stalin: they are all counted as "Soviet casualties" of the war.

    Throughout the war, Stalin continued the purges that he had begun in the 1930s, killing dissidents at the rate of one million per year (Robert Conquest's estimate, largely confirmed by the secret archives opened after the fall of the Soviet Union). Those were also counted as "casualties of the war".

    Needless to say, the countries that were "liberated" by the Soviet Union were not any better off after the war than they had been during the German occupation: many more Polish, Czech and Hungarian citizens were killed by the communist regimes than had been killed by the pro-Hitler regimes.

    Another country that got away relatively easily from its war crimes is Japan. If one counts civilian casualties only, Japan's invasions were far more brutal than Germany's invasions. They killed, enslaved and raped millions of civilians. Japan was the only country to use chemical weapons, and it pioneered biological warfare by dropping plague, cholera and anthrax germs on Chinese villages. The number of people submitted to medical experiments in Japan's secret labs is much higher than the number of German prisoners who suffered the same fate. Nobody will ever know the number of "sex slaves" who were used (probably more than one million) and who died (sources say up to 90%). Prisoners of war in German camps were not mistreated (only 1% died) but prisoners of war in Japanese camps were used as slave labourers (and 31% died). If one includes China and all the occupied countries (Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, etc), Japan caused the death of about 12 million civilians, far more than those caused by Germany.

    Second, no country can claim to have been "humane" during World War II: it was an orgy of destruction and scientific murder. The victors blamed Hitler for all the blood spilled in Europe, but that is far from the truth. The German invasion of France in 1940 caused minimal destruction to historical buildings and few civilian casualties, but the Allied invasion of Germany killed about one million German civilians and destroyed thousands of monuments. The German blitz on Britain of 1939-40 killed 40,000 civilians, but the Allied bombing offensive of 1943-45 killed about 500,000 German civilians (British concentrated on night-time carpet bombing of German cities, which killed mostly civilians, whereas Americans concentrated on daytime bombing of industrial and military targets). Very few French civilians were killed by the German invasion, whereas a lot of German civilians were killed by the invasion (and bombing) of Germany. Bottom line: the Allies won because they killed more people. The British showed no respect for civilians, to a level probably not experienced since the Mongols. Stalin was killing his own civilians, so he showed the same respect for them that he had shown before the war: none. Civilians were killed by Hungarians in Romania and by Romanians in Hungary, and by Croatians in Serbia: it was, by no means, a German exclusive. In fact, Germany targeted only two classes of civilians (Jews and Gypsies) for murder, but until 1943 they were responsible for relatively few atrocities against civilians.

    On the Eastern front, the USA avoided killing Japan's civilians for a long time, and fares much better than the rest of the world. The USA targeted Japanese forces in the Pacific, and strategic military targets in Japan, not the Japanese civilian population. Until, of course, 1945, when the firebombing of Tokyo and two nuclear bombs did exactly what the British were doing in Germany: exterminate civilians. The bomb on Nagasaki may be justified by the military value of its industrial complex, but the bomb on Hiroshima was simply a way to kill as many Japanese civilians as possible with the lowest cost in USA casualties. It is also debatable if the USA really needed to drop a second bomb without waiting for Japan to react to the first one. At the same time, the Soviet Union attacked Japan just two weeks before it surrendered, and managed to kill 500,000 Japanese in two weeks, many more than the USA killed in the entire war.

    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (January 2000) United Nations secretary generals.
    Gladwyn Jebb (Britain): 1945-1946
    Trygve Lie (Norway): 1946-1952
    Dag Hammarskjold (Sweden): 1953-1961
    U Thant (Burma): 1961-1971
    Kurt Waldheim (Austria): 1972-1981
    Javier Perez de Cuellar (Peru): 1982-1991
    Boutros Boutros-Ghali (Egypt): 1992-1996
    Kofi Annan (Ghana): 1997-
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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