The Colombian government has a security problem it has little control over: the growing unrest in Venezuela. Colombia fears this will escalate into a civil war and drive many Venezuelans, possibly more than a million, across the border as refugees. The Venezuelan border is already a danger zone because corrupt Venezuelan officers and officials have allowed Colombian drug gangs and leftist rebels to operate on the Venezuelan side. The U.S. has accused Venezuela of becoming a major transit point for illegal drugs coming out of Colombia and onto world markets. Everyone wants Venezuela fixed, but no one has a practical plan for how to do it.
The Japanese government vowed revenge against IS after a video was released showing the second of two Japanese citizens being beheaded by IS. IS had demanded $200 million ransom for the two men.
The U.S. instigated 17 arrests in Colombia and broke up a gang accused of smuggling Colombian cocaine via Venezuela to the United States; another dozen gang members are still being sought. The arrests were made possible by the defection of a Venezuelan security official to the U.S. where he revealed details of how this gang operated. He also identified senior Venezuelan officials who were paid off to let the gang function.
For the second year in a row, an international survey determined that Venezuela was the most miserable nation on the planet. Venezuela’s President Maduro blames all his problems on foreign interference and economic sabotage. The United States is seen as the main villain, but no one can produce any evidence.
Questioning their faith
In the wake of the growing number of IS videos that show Islamic terrorists killing unarmed Muslims in much more creative and gruesome ways, more Muslims are publicly raising questions about whether Islam is really a “religion of peace.” What has not yet been brought up in the Muslim world is the problem the rest of the world sees: that Islam is, in reality, the region of intolerance and hypocrisy.
Socialism doesn’t work
The Venezuelan government announced that the official inflation rate at the end of 2014 was 68.5%, compared to 56% in 2013. The government also admitted that the economy is contracting, at a rate of over 5% a year. Many believe that GDP has shrunk even more given the extent of unemployment, businesses closing, the falling price of oil and increasing shortages. Desperate for a solution, the government agreed to legalize the buying and selling of dollars, merely a band-aid applied to a much more serious wound.
Venezuela’s government places the ultimate blame for its economic problems on foreign conspiracies, and is responding by arresting its critics and accusing them of belonging to this conspiracy. All this is meant to encourage the minority population that still supports President Maduro’s socialist revolution. The government sees a need to mobilize its supporters to use force, if necessary, to prevent the majority of Venezuelans from crippling Maduro’s revolution in upcoming parliament elections with massive losses. Currently only 22% of voters approve of Maduro and another poll shows over 80% of Venezuelans blame him for the economic mess. Some politicians are calling for Maduro to resign, or be forcibly removed.
Venezuela’s experiment in establishing a socialist paradise has been undone by corruption, incompetence and the rapidly declining price of oil. Shrinking GDP and rising inflation has led to high unemployment/underemployment and an unprecedented crime wave, with Venezuela now the murder capital of the world. The murder rate in Venezuela is over 60 per 100,000 people a year; one of the highest on the planet and more than 10 times the rate in the United States.
More fact than fiction
An Arab newspaper revealed details of a meeting between Hamas and Iranian officials after the 40-day war in Gaza ended in August 2014. Iran agreed to overlook Hamas’ support for Sunni Islamic terror groups fighting the Iran-supported Syrian gov-ernment and cooperate with Hamas on doing some damage to Israel. Iran also agreed to resume sending cash and as much mili-tary aid as they could get past the Israeli and Egyptian blockade. Hamas and Fatah are supposed to have made peace, but given the Hamas violence against Fatah supporters in Gaza, and Fatah doing the same to Hamas members in the West Bank, the Hamas-Fatah peace is more fiction than fact.
Submit or die
The word “Islam” derives from the Arabic word “istaslama” which means, literally, “submission.” What is implied, for most Muslims, is that non-Muslims must submit as well, whether they want to or not. To refuse to submit is a sign of intolerance, religious bigotry, racism and blasphemy and most definitely against Islamic scripture and practice. For Islamic conservatives, clergy and scholars, there can be no other interpretation. Westerners have had a hard time understanding this crucial cultural difference, but now it is becoming violently obvious to Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
At war with us
The effort to eliminate the religion angle when it comes to Islamic terrorism is also present in the United States. For example, it’s official policy in the U.S. military to eliminate any mention of a war between Islam and the West. This policy is enforced despite the fact that Islam, at least according to many Muslims, is definitely at war with the Western world.
Opinion polls conducted among Muslims after the January Islamic terror attacks in Paris, France, that left 20 dead found that most Muslims in the Middle East believed that the attack was actually carried out by Israeli intelligence to punish Europe for its growing support of the Palestinian effort to destroy Israel. Over 80% of Palestinians believed this. The logic of this attitude was that the only one to benefit from the attacks was Israel, so it must have been planned by Israel.
Alive and well
The U.S. has officially maintained the illusion that we aren’t at war with Islam since shortly after September 11, 2001, despite the fact that many Islamic clerics and government officials in Muslim nations, openly and frequently agree “Islam is at war with the West.” Many Western leaders prefer to believe that by insisting that such hostile religious attitudes are not widespread in Muslim countries, the hostility will diminish. To that end, the U.S. government has, for years, been removing any reference to “Islam” and “terrorism” in official documents. Military and civilian personnel who have spent time in Muslim countries know the “Islam is at war with the West” angle is alive and well among Muslims. When you look at the media in Muslim countries, it is all pretty explicit.
“The ones keeping people from making progress are the people of the left who keep fools and enthrall their ignorant and fraudulent beliefs like government can control the climate and Islam is peace.” — Dustin Koellhoffer, blogger and Tea Party Patriot
Revealing old tech
In honor of the 1979 revolution’s 36th anniversary, Iran’s government unveiled a new supersonic fighter jet called the Saeqeh 2 (Thunderbolt 2). This jet, along with its older cousins, the Azarakhsh and the Saeqeh 1, are Iran’s latest attempts to reverse engineer and improve the Cold War-era Northrop F-5E. Prior to the 1979 revolution, Iran had over 100 Northrop F-5E’s in service; they still have about 70 of them, although most are not flyable.
Many Muslims in the Middle East still believe that the Israelis and the American CIA carried out the September 11, 2001 at-tacks. In fact, just about any catastrophic event that makes Arabs or Muslims look bad is blamed on Israel, the Americans or some other Western state, and most Muslims actually believe it and they have no problem expressing those beliefs. These conspiracy theories extend to the belief that the Taliban, al Qaeda and IS were all Western inventions meant to discredit Islam and Muslims, in general, as well as provide an excuse to attack Islam and kill Muslims.
Adding fuel to the fire
Bahrain has sent warplanes to Jordan to participate in the air campaign against IS.
A gift from IS
The UN is criticizing IS for marking foreign, mostly UN and mostly paid for by the U.S., food aid as coming from IS. Before IS allows food aid to be distributed, the boxes and sacks must be marked as a “gift from IS.” The UN also criticizes IS for selling some food on the market to raise cash. IS tells the UN to shut up and be grateful that IS allows the food aid in and generally does not abuse UN staff.
IS retreating in Iraq and Syria. Sunni tribes in Anbar and western Syria are in open revolt and subject to increasingly savage reprisals by IS gunmen, who are often foreigners, which makes the tribesmen angrier. Half the IS leadership has been killed by coalition warplanes since August 2014. This air support and Iraqi soldiers, Kurdish troops, Shia militias and armed Sunni tribesmen have taken back much of the territory IS overran in early 2014. American and other Western troops are rebuilding the Iraqi Army and arming anti-IS Sunni tribesmen. Iran is training and sometimes leading Shia militias. In Syria IS is getting beaten by Kurds, Syrian soldiers and more Iranian trained Shia militias.
Search and rescue
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) resumed air attacks against IS after halting them until the U.S. increased its Search and Rescue (SAR) forces in the area. The UAE attributed the capture of a Jordanian pilot to insufficient SAR forces and, therefore, halted their air strikes. American SAR units have commando-type rescue personnel and support specialists who can quickly direct combat aircraft to where a downed pilot is, keeping hostile troops away until the pilot is rescued. It is unclear if a more vigorous SAR response would have prevented the capture of the Jordanian pilot, but the UAE believed it would, and having more SAR units was the only way to get UAE warplanes back in the air over Iraq and Syria.
Chinese claims on much of eastern Russia and increasing Chinese economic domination in the Russian Far East tends to make Russians nervous. At the moment, Russian leaders are more concerned with the imaginary threat from the West rather than the very real one from the east.
Liberals live in a make-believe world. In their minds, facts don’t matter; facts are just obstacles to their agenda. The only thing that matters to the Brian Williams of the world is how much of their fantasies can be projected as truth and can they get away with it.
The Russians are feeling the impact of their territorial dispute with Ukraine. That’s because GDP will shrink by at least 3% in 2015 and probably closer to 10%. If oil prices remain low, Russia will lose about a third of the $500 billion a year in export income, most of it from oil and natural gas. Their population is also shrinking, as foreigners flee and migration from Central Asia declines because of the economic problems and far fewer jobs. Nothing good comes out of taking some territory from Ukraine.
Russia gave the Chinese yet another reason to exact some revenge. Russia agreed to sell jet engines directly to Pakistan for the Chinese-made JF-17 fighters Pakistan is importing and building under license. China is still dependent on Russia for high-performance military jet engines, but if the Chinese followed Russian practice, they would insist that Pakistan buy the Russian engines from China so they could up the price and make a profit. The Chinese don’t forget slights like this, and the Russians know it.
Westerners in Russia, especially those who speak and read Russian, report that state-controlled Russian media has seemingly reverted to stories and attitudes right out of the Cold War. It’s unreal but it’s actually happening. Russian media is full of stories of NATO aggression against Russia and anything that is going wrong in Russia is blamed on a NATO conspiracy to destroy Russia. The Russian aggression in Ukraine is described as a fable created by a NATO conspiracy to take over the Ukrainian government and institute a terror campaign against the ethnic Russian minority in Ukraine, especially eastern Ukraine.
Doing more damage
In order to distract Russians from their collapsing economy, continuing corruption and the expanding police state that is drag-ging Russia back to the bad old days of the Soviet Union, the leadership creates crises in Ukraine. While the government can keep the discontent largely invisible via the state controlled mass media, the unease at the top is harder to conceal. The “Cold Warriors,” led by former KGB officer Vladimir Putin, dominate, and the technocrats, led by Prime Minister Medvedev, keep Putin in power. This dissent at the top is all about the technocrats doing the math and pointing out that the Ukraine aggression is damaging the economy and threatening to use nukes scares Russians as much as everyone else.
Since the U.S. has so few troops on the ground in Iraq and hardly any in Syria, it has to use different methods for finding targets for the coalition to attack from above. Just because the attacks are being made with precision munitions does not eliminate the risk of civilian casualties. There have been few of these, but none are ignored on the ground because Arab Islamic terrorists will invent them if they can to rally more support to their cause.
Egypt has long declared that outside force would eventually be needed and saw Libyan peace talks as futile and counterproductive because the Islamic terrorist factions really have no interest in compromising. This was before IS showed up in 2014 and the IS is the most violent and uncompromising Islamic terror group out there.
Owns the ideology
“The (liberal) left owns the ideology of hate and violence against free speech and violence against the innocent. They pro-mote the ideology of socialism lived by Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, Red China, Imperial Japan, Fascist Italy and Islam. For the last six years every mass shooting, bombing or terrorist attack has been attributed by leftists to the Tea Party until the actual perpetrators, psychopaths and Muslims, were found out. It is time for the pot to stop calling the tea pot black.” — Dustin Koellhoffer, blogger and Tea Party Patriot
The terrorist violence continues in the Russian Caucasus, but there is less of it. In 2014, terrorist-related deaths were down 36%, to 340. Only about 52% of those deaths were in Chechnya, but that was up 33% from 2013. Russia believes a major rea-son for the reduced violence was the movement of so many Russian Islamic terrorists, mainly from the Caucasus, to Syria to fight for the IS.
China began the New Year with yet another major attempt to block free access to the international Internet. This involved new censorship software to detect and block the use of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) that have been used to access forbidden websites outside China. The government also rolled out powerful new data mining and screening software checks for anti-government posts in real time. Currently as many as 10% of Chinese Internet users get past the “Great Firewall of China” using VPNs and other technical tools.
A Swedish newspaper exposed another incident of their government giving in to Russian pressure, when they agreed not to land any of its warplanes in Estonia or Finland during joint military exercises held in March and April. The Swedish government saw this as throwing the Russians a bone while remaining involved with the U.S.-sponsored joint exercises. Russia is also pressuring Sweden to stay out of NATO, but news stories like this make it more likely that Swedish voters would approve joining. Russia is now considered more threatening than they were during the Cold War.
“Allah is our objective; the Prophet is our leader; the Quran is our law; Jihad is our way; dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.” — Muslim Brotherhood motto
So far the U.S. has screened 1,200 Syrian rebels to be sent to training at camps in Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. It is believed that those selected are less likely to be radicalized and the U.S. hopes to have 3,000 trained and in action by the end of 2015. Such screening is difficult, but Saudi Arabia helped, as they have had success in that respect. The American effort is criticized for being too slow and producing too few armed and trained fighters to make a difference. At the moment, U.S. policy limits what U.S. counter-terrorism efforts can do.
In the West, Russian government debt was downgraded to “junk” status. This makes it much more expensive for the Russian government to borrow outside Russia.
Sending a message
The EU made a move sure to anger Russia by admitting, in print, that Russian troops are in eastern Ukraine. The EU also added Russian military commanders known to be controlling Russian troops fighting in Ukraine to the list of those sanctioned. The EU had previously gone along with the Russian lie that there were no Russian troops fighting in Ukraine, but as Russian involvement became more obvious and their bad behavior of making, then violating, ceasefire and other agreements, the EU decided to send Russia a message.
The Russian threat
According to an opinion poll, 18% of Americans sense a growing threat from Russia, believing that Russia is the most dan-gerous foreign threat. That’s up from 9% in 2014 and 2% in 2012. The second and more-feared threat is North Korea at 15%; which had been at the top of the list for a long time.
Despite the declining IS prospects, a recent opinion poll in the U.S. showed that 84% of Americans believe the IS is the most serious threat over the next decade. International terrorism also has 84% of Americans concerned; Iranian nukes frighten 77%, followed by North Korea at 64% and Russia 49%.
Islamic terrorists are a direct threat to all humanity.
North Korea is still seeking a high price for any sort of concession on its nuclear program. North Korea continues to hold out for a major concession; the size is unspecified, but apparently it’s more than the U.S. or its neighbors are willing to pay in order to have the North to shut down their nuclear and long-range ballistic missile programs. China is getting more nervous and more extreme in its threats to North Korea over the matter.
What is the left’s definition of oppression? Using Ferguson as an example, if they are not free to loot, rape and murder as they please, they are being oppressed.
Ceasefire negotiations in Ukraine aren’t working. Russia pretends to agree to a ceasefire, then declares it has no control over rebel factions that are seeking to gain an advantage by using ceasefire terms which the Ukrainians obey, but the rebels don’t. The rebels regularly violated the September ’14 ceasefire, even launching a major offensive in January. Since September the rebels, with the aid of up to 10,000 Russian troops inside Donbas, have gained more than 500 square kilometers of territory. This led to another round of negotiations, with Russia, as before, pretending to be the peacemaker and denying all evidence that it supervised and often carried out most of the ceasefire violations. It is happening all over again.
“Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force; like fire, a troublesome servant and a fearful master. Never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action.” — George Washington
Preventing mass unrest
Despite all the Internet censorship, Chinese citizens continue to discuss forbidden subjects like corruption at the top and Chi-nese who openly protest the corruption and bad government. Chinese censors aren’t really going after individual offenders as much as they are seeking to prevent mass unrest, so sometimes even the arrest and punishment of Internet offenders is not pub-licized. China has a growing problem with large groups hitting the streets to protest and, with the large amount of corruption and inefficiency, there’s a lot to protest. The Internet is seen as essential, economically, but also the chief means for local pro-tests to turn into major ones. That is not to be allowed, at all costs.
A benefit to China
When China makes itself useful to other countries it’s because it’s useful to China, often in the long run. Case in point is their willingness to sell weapons to Argentina, which is surprising because Argentina is broke and a notorious international deadbeat. China normally sells to anyone as long as they can pay cash, preferably up front if there are any doubts about the buyer’s credit rating. An exception is being made with Argentina, as it will allow South Americans to get a better view of Chinese weapons, which are touted as cheap, reliable and increasingly high-tech.
Keeping it secret
With all China’s new military high-tech comes the need to keep a lot of it secret, so China is building a 71-foot-high wall around its Dalian naval base in northeastern China to prevent people from taking pictures of what is going on there. It seems that past construction resulted in unexpectedly tall residences being built near the base so the military got new laws passed restricting the height of new buildings near military bases. Having existing buildings torn down is too difficult because some of the owners are powerful locals, thus the need for the wall.
In part because of the need to focus their anger at North Korea, China has eased up on its “hate Japan” campaign, which encourages local hotheads to be openly nasty about Japan and with Japanese-owned companies in China, and even sometimes physical with visiting Japanese citizens. The government knows it can easily turn this hate on again to deflect criticism of local bad behavior, such as corruption or unpopular government policies because of some seemingly endless self-destructive and impossible-to-change bad be-havior of the Japanese. This ensures that the Japanese never have close allies in the region.
Is liberalism synonymous with lying?
Many news items courtesy of strategypage.com & James Dunnigan. All material ©2015, StrategyWorld, Inc.