Dark Age Watch

What is a dark age?

Sunday, January 07, 2007
China unveils indigenous fighter jet This new Chinese jet may not be the most advanced model on the planet, "but its basic design and indigenous equipment are comparable to those of mainstream fighter aircraft in the West." China needs one more generation without war, and perhaps not even that. Question is, will they get it? Wars Coming Soon and international disintegration (levelling the playing field - the US in future may not be able to be so confident of always having the best weaponry). **

British struggle to hold Taliban: "NEW film footage from Afghanistan has suggested the British Army controls little but isolated pockets in Helmand, the province in the south of the country where the troops are trying to establish stability." International disintegration

MoD spends £2.3bn on Whitehall offices - Sunday Times - Times Online: "THE Ministry of Defence’s new Whitehall headquarters will cost the taxpayer £2.3 billion to refurbish and run, according to official figures...More than three miles of walls were demolished to create an open-plan “highly innovative” office space, costing £27,302 per square metre, with marble and oak features restored to the “highest quality”...Luxury office chairs worth more than £1,000 for each of the 3,100 civil servants..." Internal organisation The lifestyle of its public servants is a sensitive barometer of the health of a civilisation. This news suggests that Britain is not doing too badly at the beginning of the third millennium.

Bush’s final gamble on victory in Iraq: "PRESIDENT George W Bush is expected to announce this week that a “surge” of US troops into Iraq will be accompanied by a handover of many provinces to Iraqi government control. The move is designed to present a plan for “victory” in Iraq, which also contains the promise of an exit strategy. Bush hopes to confound critics of the surge and reassure a sceptical public that decisive action by the US military could lead to troop withdrawals." International integration?? Although the signs are far from optimistic, it is too early to write off the Bush Reconquest. DAT suggests that what the US desperately needs is a victory and success, since perception creates reality as much as reality creates perception. The more the US is seen to be failing, the more encouragement this will give to America's enemies, and the harder it will be to reverse the failure syndrome. However, if the US does succeed in one, albeit limited area, perceptions will change, and in due course reality may follow. The neocons, as in so many other areas, seem to have a clear grasp of this principle, if the Fallujah operation is anything to judge by. Fallujah was once a base from which Iraqi insurgents operated with impunity, but it was razed with utter ruthlessness, and is now quite orderly under American control. Fallujah may be the seed from which the American pacification of Iraq grows.

Teenagers from hell Internal discohesion This article (in German) paints a picture of children running amok in modern Britain, and terrorising adults, with several recent cases of young thugs beating family men to death, either for money or just for kicks. It speaks of poverty and the underclass, and notes: "Some fifty percent of these homes are without a dining table. The children, often in single-parent households, have never had the experience of sitting down to a meal as a family. What these homes do not lack is the television set."

Teens see parents as role models "Teenagers in the UK look to their parents as role models much more than celebrities such as David Beckham or Pete Doherty, a survey suggests. Of more than 1,000 youngsters surveyed many expressed "highly positive attitudes" towards their family." Internal cohesion On a more optimistic note...

Troops flee from border outpost Unarmed American troops "guarding" the Mexican border flee into the night. Approaching armed men overrun outpost and then return back across the border. "Several Border Patrol agents in the area told The Washington Times yesterday the armed men might have been trying to find out what the Guard troops would do if they were confronted by drug or alien smugglers...."I guess they got their answer," said one veteran agent. "When in doubt, the troops will run." And further: "Minuteman Civil Defense Corps (an armed vigilante group which is actually guarding the border) President Chris Simcox...said MCDC will increase its activity today with dozens of members expected to stand alongside Guard troops." (International disintegration) The manifest absurdity of this situation may itself be sufficient commentary.**

White Farmers Given Leases In Zimbabwe "Zimbabwe has granted long-term leases to 19 white farmers in a step toward allowing as many as 1,000 white-owned commercial farms to resume operating legally after years of land seizures, a top government adviser said...Many white farmers have rejected the move as a desperate bid to revive the country's economy without restoring their property rights. The new leases are for 99 years but include conditions that would allow government officials to easily revoke them, and the leases can be bought and sold only with the approval of the government." A difficult one to classify (though suggestions. observations always welcome), but it is hard to imagine that this will make much difference, one way or the other, to the ongoing African dark age

Egypt May Develop Nuclear Weapons "Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said that while his country does not want nuclear weapons, it must have the ability to defend itself against nuclear states. 'We don't want nuclear arms in the area but we are obligated to defend ourselves. We will have to have the appropriate weapons. It is irrational that we sit and watch from the sidelines when we might be attacked at any moment,'" Mubarak said. The statement appears to be a reversal from Egypt's previous assurances that its nuclear program would be aimed solely at combating the country's deficiency in fuel and natural gas reserves." International disintegration And once again, who can blame him? It takes no great insight to realize that the proliferation of nuclear weapons in the Middle East can/will have catastrophic consequences for the entire world, including America. Question: where's the current hegemon in all this? A confident and self-possessed hegemon at the peak of its power, aware of and acting on behalf of its own interests, would not hesitate to impose peace and order upon each participant in the Middle East, including its ally (client state?) Israel, banning the development of and possession of nuclear weapons by any of these states. **

Globalization in Retreat "The process by which relatively autonomous national economies become functionally integrated into one global economy was touted as “irreversible.”...Globalization, in fact, has reached its high water mark and is receding." International disorganisation

Iran: If threatened, we may alter opposition to obtaining nukes "Ali Larijani, Iranian nuclear envoy: "We oppose obtaining nuclear weapons and we will peacefully use nuclear technology under the framework of the Nonproliferation Treaty," he said. "But," he warned, "if we are threatened, the situation may change." The rhetoric might already changing. Wars Coming Soon. ** (Let us remember that Islamist 'non-state actors' (terrorists, insurgents) would probably not hesitate to use nukes against the US or Israel if they could get hold of them. The American(/Israeli) wish to interdict proliferation to non-friendly Iran is entirely rational, even if it seems to be provoking the Iranians. The danger, though, is one of 'too little, too late' and 'neither one thing nor the other'. Nevertheless, if history is anything to go by, proliferation is inevitable, and the present world order must be swept away in the long run, however clever or otherwise neocon policy.) See also Revealed: Israel plans nuclear strike on Iran.**

Saturday, January 06, 2007
The peak oil crisis: 2006 in review "With flat production and steady or increasing consumption in those countries that publish detailed reports, something had to give or else we would be seeing considerably higher oil prices. The give came in the underdeveloped world where $20 or $30 oil was affordable for generating electricity, running pumps, and for cooking, but $60 or $70 per barrel oil was not. Again, the returns are not in yet, but anecdotal evidence is accumulating that many parts of Africa, Central America, and Asia are starting to shut down. For these peoples, the oil age, such as it was, is already over." African dark age This website does not endorse the "peak oil" thesis as such, in that we see it as only a temporary stress - in the long term the universe will supply all the energy and resources that we need - the problem is (temporarily) defective human ingenuity and not a physical constraint. Nevertheless, insofar as peak oil is a problem, it shows the faltering imagination of our society and its ripeness for a dark age (during which radical energy solutions will take shape).

Somalis protest over Ethiopians "Hundreds of people have taken to the streets of the Somali capital Mogadishu in protest at the presence of Ethiopian forces backing the interim government. " African dark age Ethiopia is not thought of fondly in Somalia, given that Ethiopians, under Menelik II, colonised the north-west in the late nineteenth century, when they behaved in a rather brutal manner. The "Mad Mullah", who caused much trouble to the British Empire, began his career by leading a revolt against Ethiopian rule. He was praised as a great Somali hero by the warlord Mohammed Aidid, whose troops were responsible for the US's humiliating debacle depicted in Blackhawk Down. The Somali Islamists are not a new phenomenon. They helped bring down the regime of Siad Barre in 1990, and were founded by veteran mujahideen returning from the 1980s Afghanistan conflict with the Soviet Union. The Islamists have been playing a positive role in knitting together the numerous in-fighting clans making up Somali society, and thus helping Somalia out of its dark age. All in all, it is unlikely that this American-backed intervention by Ethiopia is going to lead to peace and order in Somalia.

Students go East for cheap living and bright future "The number of Britons studying in China has more than doubled in three years, from 650 to 1,400. They have realised what many more soon will: that China offers university life on the cheap and stands them in excellent stead in the job market when they return." International disintegration The shifting economic and cultural situation, globally.

Eurozone jobless rate falls to 13-year low "The jobless rate in the 12 countries that shared the euro last year fell to 7.6 percent in November, the lowest since 1993 when such measurements started, European Union statistical agency Eurostat said on Friday." Internal organisation? The deeper underlying problems related to innovation failure and growing overheads remain.

Canberra to sell uranium to China "Australia has 40% of the world's recoverable uranium, while China needs a huge amount of energy for its large population and rising economy." International organisation it seems, but the story could also be about arming the barbarians, which would imply a levelling of the (nuclear) playing field. China of course has nuclear weapons but it will need many more to build up a credible deterrent, should its relations with the US or Russia deteriorate seriously at some point in the future.

Chinese men abducted in Nigeria "Five Chinese telecommunications workers have been kidnapped by unidentified armed men in southern Nigeria." Internal disintegration

Friday, January 05, 2007
4 killed in Sri Lanka bus blast "The blast in the relatively peaceful west took place at a time when the Sri Lankan military has launched air and artillery attacks on the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in the north and the east of the island. More than 3,000 people were killed in suicide bombings, aerial and naval raids and clashes last year despite a 2002 cease-fire that international monitors say now exists only on paper." Internal disintegration

U.S. ships block escape route as Somalia assault readies "Somali troops backed by Ethiopians prepared to launch a major assault Friday on the last stronghold of Islamic movement militiamen. U.S. Navy warships were patrolling off the Somali coast to prevent the militiamen from escaping by sea." International integration or perhaps hegemonic meddling ensuring that Africa continues to prevented from reaching equilibrium (which will be somewhere near rock-bottom, after which it may begin to rebuild). A truly effective hegemon would not float around in the littoral while its mercenaries and surrogates do the dirty work. It would be in there imposing order, and so impressing the locals that they would be falling over themselves to adopt its culture and way of life. However, we are way beyond that, being already in what will one day be seen as dark age times.

Ryanair hits back in 'green' row : "In a broad attack on airlines' efforts to tackle carbon emissions, Ian Pearson said Ryanair was the "irresponsible face of capitalism". ..Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary hit back...He said the "silly" minister and "eco-lunatics" were targeting the aviation industry when it accounted for 2% of the problem...Chancellor Gordon Brown attempted to boost the government's green credentials in his pre-Budget report by doubling air passenger duty from £5 to £10 on short haul flights. Passengers on long haul flights could pay up to £80 extra." Internal disorganisation In the century after Columbus discovered America, Spain became incredibly rich on looted silver. However, commerce within Spain was limited by an extensive system of tolls, sometimes only a matter of miles apart. Historians have seen this taxation of movement as absolute folly, which duly turned Spain into one of the poorest countries in Europe. Today taxing people to prevent them moving around is seen as governmental virtue of the highest order (in the name of saving the planet). The boss of Ryanair is castigated as "irresponsible" for helping people to move around more cheaply and easily. Many of Ryanair's customers are businesspeople who are going to work, and their activities ultimately fund the parasitic governmental bureaucracy. The government is smugly sawing off the tree branch on which it is sitting. On the subject of innovation failure, see UK scientists planning to mix human and animal cells in order to research cures for degenerative diseases fear their work will be halted.

Moscow Moves to Consolidate Control in Belarus and Turkmenistan "ussia's political manipulation of its key position in Eurasian strategic resource networks and markets is once again making headlines. The Kremlin's recent actions in Turkmenistan and Belarus demonstrate two aspects of Moscow's unitary policy that seeks to secure and expand Russia's leadership in European, Caucasian and Central Asian energy security. If Moscow succeeds in attaining all of its goals in the two former Soviet states, the implications for the European Union and the United States will be significant." Regional integration - global disintegration

Thursday, January 04, 2007
Plague of rats is blamed on mania for recycling: "Recycling 'mania' has caused a plague of vermin infestations across the country, according to a damning independent report. It blamed rubbish collections that come just once a fortnight and the widespread use of composting bins for a huge jump in domestic disturbances by rats and mice...It condemned town halls that cut refuse collections from once a week to once a fortnight in the name of recycling. " Internal disorganisation We move backwards to medieval conditions. "Saving the environment" as an excuse for living poorer is an example of the denial typical of a pre-dark age society. (Societies that are not in denial can reverse their movement towards dark age conditions.)

Yes, I know children are our future - but don't ask me to have any! Toyah Willcox: "We have given children the wrong impression of our intentions. By giving in to them on so many fronts, in some cases parents have become a laughing stock by being too scared to stand up to them. A few years ago, I was in Leeds, filming the children's series Adam's Family Tree. The school in which we were shooting was in the centre of a notorious housing estate and we had to be ferried there in an armoured bus. What I saw on that two-minute journey made my blood freeze: cars burning, with children running up to the flames and pushing their hands in. I had only ever read about this sort of thing in the 1975 Doris Lessing novel, Memoirs Of A Survivor, where the author warned her readers that children could become our oppressors. Suddenly, here was the reality. " Internal discohesion One great modern myth is that children are innocent little angels, only corrupted by the adult world. In truth, children are egotists, given to violence, cheating and stealing in order to please themselves. They need to be socialised by adults if they are to have a chance of turning into half-way decent human beings. Viz. The Lord of the Flies. With respect to another theme of this piece, the decision not to have children is, like it or not, self-centred and discohesive, as Toyah Willcox's explanation of her motives actually makes clear.

UK military housing: "The complaints cover a host of problems, from cracked walls and broken pipes to mildew and even rats." Internal disorganisation The lifestlye of its public servants is a litmus test of the health of a civilisation.

Somali militia group 'surrounded': "Somali troops backed by Ethiopian forces are fighting about 600 Islamist militiamen in the south of the country, says an interim government spokesman.
Abdirahman Dinari told the BBC soldiers had surrounded the militia group near the Kenyan border - which has been reinforced to stop their escape. US naval forces are deployed off the Somali coast to prevent leaders of the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) escaping. " African dark age - internal integration Let's face it - the odds are 99 to 1 that this is another false dawn. Africa has at least a 200-year dark age ahead of it.

Amazon boss shows off spacecraft: "Writing on the company's website, Mr Bezos said: 'We're working, patiently and step-by-step, to lower the cost of spaceflight so that many people can afford to go; and so that we humans can better continue exploring the Solar System.'" Innovation (pro-organisation) Humans will move off this planet in due course, and it will be achieved by entrepreneurs like Mr Bezos, not government bureaucracies like NASA. Nevertheless, it may not be achieved by the pampered people who live on this side of the dark age - consider what will happen after the first space tourist is killed in one of these machines. It will take the determination of the post-dark agers to shrug off the risks that the conquest of space will involve.

Report: Japan to drop woman monarch plan: "Japan will drop plans to allow women to inherit the Chrysanthemum Throne following the birth last year of a long-awaited male heir, a news report said Wednesday. " Anti-discohesion perhaps. The strict enforcement of gender roles is a feature of cohesive societies. This does not mean however that cohesive societies cannot have female leaders, and in fact dynastic forms, where social mobility is low and power is limited to a narrow elite, tend to favour the emergence of female rulers. It is no coincidence that countries such as Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan and Turkey have all had women premiers, whereas the US, in which politics is more of a free-for-all, has yet to have even a woman vice-president.

Mexico troops sent to border city "Mexico is sending more than 3,000 soldiers and police to the northern border city of Tijuana to help fight drug trafficking and gang violence...The city, across the border from San Diego in California, is a major entry point for drugs into the US." International disintegration America as Hegemon? Seems that its southern neighbor, Mexico, has become, in something less than a decade, a very dangerous and unhappy place, even by its own traditional standards. No wonder many Mexicans have been heading north. Who can blame them? It would be like blaming the Goths for fleeing poverty and warfare north of the Danube. Of course, at that time the Romans were neither willing nor able to influence much of anything across their border either.

Birds do it, bees do it . . . "It is not what you would expect to see when you take your children on a Sunday outing to the natural history museum: a giant photograph of one male giraffe humping another, or two whales sparring with giant penises. This, however, is Norway, where — for better or worse — the normal rules do not apply. Three years ago the Government told the country’s museums and libraries that they should do more to contribute to social debates and dare to tackle taboo subjects." Internal discohesion

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Protesters in Lebanon have a simple message for Britain and the US: "It is very unfortunate and indeed short-sighted that the west still lives in the shadows of Rudyard Kipling's ominous description of non-westerns as 'new-caught, sullen peoples, Half-devil and half-child' whom the white man has been burdened with civilising and protecting. But unlike Kipling's verse where the white man has to coax the 'thankless savages' by 'open speech and simple, An hundred times made plain,' the savages are now sleeping out in the streets, and delivering their own simple message to the west that the US, Britain, Israel and the rest of the purportedly enlightened modern world cannot expect democracies in the Arab world to operate on western terms." International discohesion When true democracy operates in non-western countries, the resulting parliaments tend to be not pro-western but pro- their own citizens. It is dictators who sell their own countries down the river in order to please their western armourers and creditors.

United Nations of Britain "This historic image reveals for the first time how the whole world has flocked to Britain. There are 192 countries in the UN and now the Mail has traced and photographed people from all but two of them who today make their homes in London. At the dawn of a new year, it presents a fascinating snapshot of the changing face of our nation." Barbarian invasion The London of Sherlock Holmes is gone and will never return.

Doing it their own way "The governments of Argentina and Venezuela are transforming not only their own countries but also the region by finally breaking the IMF's control over credit. Venezuela has now provided an alternative source of credit, with no economic policy strings attached, to Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador and other countries." International disintegration The Monroe Doctrine looks a bit green at the edges.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007
Iran will press ahead with nuclear work-president ""The Iranian nation is wise and will stick to its nuclear work and is ready to defend it completely," Ahmadinejad said in a televised speech to a rally in the southern city of Ahvaz. "The UN resolution against Iran's atomic work has no validity for Iranians. It is illegal and politically motivated."" International disintegration... for now. Will Ahmedinejad suffer Saddam's fate?

The fault lines of civilizations "It appears that Ethiopia, long ruled by Christians, does not want to see Somalia ruled by radical Islamists, and is therefore hard at work putting Somalia's warlords back in power. America's role in this conflict has not been adequately explained. Long antagonists, Ethiopia and Somalia were divided during the Cold War by the ideological fault lines of the American-Soviet rivalry. "During the Cold War a country could be nonaligned, as many were, or it could, as some did, change its alignment from one side to another," Samuel Huntington wrote 10 years ago in his eerily prophetic book "The Clash of Civilizations." Ethiopia and Somalia were classic examples of the latter, abruptly changing alliances. Ethiopia switched from being America's ally to the Soviet bloc, inviting in Russian advisers and Cuban soldiers to help fight Somali rebels.
Today, the fault lines are more cultural and religious, as Huntington predicted." International discohesion

Africa's year "This was the year that the war on terror came of age in Africa, with the Horn of Africa simmering and a new regional conflagration looming. But 2006 was also the year that China emerged as a dominant trading partner. China's trade with Africa is likely to hit $50bn in 2006, level-pegging with the other big trading blocs in Europe and North America. The grand African summit in Beijing in November set the seal on China's critical economic role. But the unfolding crises in the greater Horn of Africa are drawing attention from other important developments on the continent: African economies are growing at their fastest for almost three decades as foreign interest booms in African equities and money markets." Disintegration-organisation coupling The phoenix principle in action. In his Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, Paul Kennedy identified Europe's fragmentation and conflict as a positive factor in its ability to innovate and grow.

Spain says Eta peace talks 'over' "The peace process between the Spanish government and Basque separatists Eta is "finished" following a bombing in Madrid, Spain's interior minister says." Internal discohesion

Train fare rises draw criticism Internal disorganisation It all contributes to an expanding world.

US will be defeated in Afghanistan: former CIA hand International disintegration "A former senior CIA operative who tracked Osama bin Laden for 10 long years foresees "an apparent American defeat in Afghanistan". Michael Sheuer said the way ahead in Afghanistan and along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border "ultimately would lead to the defeat of US and NATO forces and the demise of the Karzai government"."

How to Lose an Army Imperial overstretch There are no pretenses here to any claim to an ability to judge the argument of this article which recently appeared in American self-styled "paleoconservative" Pat Buchanan's magazine, The American Conservative. It describes a scenario whereby an American or Israeli attack on Iran could result in a catastrophic loss of American forces in Iraq. But the basic premise of the article written by William Lind, a well known theoretician of Fourth Generation Warfare, is certainly correct: stunning military catastrophes often occur when a long standing superior power fails to give much, if any, thought to the possibility of defeat precisely because it holds the military forces as well as the culture of its opponents in utter contempt. The Emperor Valens' careless and sloppy advance toward the army of the Visigoths at Adrianople, against the advice of his colleague Emperor in the West, is an apt example. The WWII German advance towards Stalingrad in the late Summer of 1942 is another. In this instance the Germans, from private soldiers to highly placed generals, were mostly convinced that the Russian army, composed of "subhumans" of course, had finally been defeated. The champagne was out, the war had been won, and they'd all be home by Christmas - only to see their forward tank units stopped on the outskirts of Stalingrad for a week by a few hundred Russian high school girls firing anti aircraft weapons at point blank range. This, in part, bought time for the Russian 62d army to assemble in the city. Thereafter, the Germans fatally became involved in the most massive, costly, and demoralizing episode of street fighting ever, which gave the Russians the opportunity to amass a million fresh troops and a third of their armored forces along the flanks of the overextended German position. The German high command ignored the danger of its position as well as the presence of the Russian forces because they couldn't imagine that the Russian army was capable of sophisticated blitzkrieg tactics. In late November 1942, Russian armored forces attacked through a blinding snowstorm, north and south of the city, and within three days had surrounded and cutoff the entire German Sixth Army. ***

Monday, January 01, 2007
Japan birth rate shows rare rise Pro-organisation A growing population is a sign of a growing economy.

Somalia targets Islamists' escape: "Somalia's transitional government has issued an urgent appeal to Kenya to seal their common border to prevent fleeing Islamist forces from crossing...The appeal came after the Islamists were driven from their last stronghold, the southern port of Kismayo." African dark age Pro-integration.

Thai PM blames rivals for blasts Internal disintegration