Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Putin on the rips in Syria, Chinese troops in Africa, and #%$@! Spartans!

Here’s an epic example of the art of propaganda. An essay by Jackson Diehl in the Washington Post, in which he falls all over himself to gush admiration for the way Vladimir Putin has outmaneuvered the West in both Ukraine and in Syria “catching the Obama Administration flat-footed.”  

Diehl is joined by the entire panoply of right wing fools who gave us “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq, then proclaimed that we were actually there to spread democracy… and then shouted “squirrel!” to point elsewhere when that frenzied exercise in Nation Building didn’t work out so good. Now take this screech by Charles Krauthammer: Putin's Gambit, Obama's Puzzlement: in which he writes, “Kerry and Obama are serially surprised because they cannot fathom the hard men in the Kremlin.” 

And yes, I spoke of this a little while back, citing the declaration by Forbes Magazine that Vladimir Putin is the "most powerful person in the world." Actually read the Forbes drivel! But the flood of such ravings, from Diehl and others, proves that it is now a central right-wing catechism, meant to confirm that "Barack Obama is a wimp."  And therefore, by contagion, so are all democrats.

And hence, for all their sins -- having not one single example of good governance outcomes to point to, across the last two Republican administrations -- they get to sneer "at least we admire guys who are strong!"

But let’s see what their facts might be.  The West advised the Ukrainian government to grant some autonomy to the Donbass region, where ethnic Russians mostly live and would prefer separation. But that separation is now prevented.  (For now.) 

And even if the Donbass does eventually go to Moscow, like the Crimea, as the locals clearly want?

Such nibble-backs are signs of failure, not strength. Moscow is desperate to put a positive spin on the biggest loss from the Russian sphere of influence since Peter the Great – absolute loss of the Ukraine, which will never, ever, ever again allow a Muscovite puppet to hold power in Kiev.  

That is the big story, the huge story. The only part of the story with major geopolitical repercussions and long term effects.

And yet, the ability of Vladimir-idolators to ignore huge defeats, while touting their hero’s tactical-retreat “victories,” is simply stunning. 

To be clear - and repeating the point so that it can rise above the Fox/Forbes fantasy - the Russians themselves are not as stupid as Fox commentators. They do not ignore the devastating setback in Ukraine. 

They deem it to have been a hugely aggressive and successful assault on Russian interests by Barack Obama. They view Obama as anything but the wimp he is portrayed in right wing American press.  They see him as the most aggressive and successful opponent they have faced, since Reagan.

Or, as described on Slate by Fred Kaplan:  “The portrayal of Vladimir Putin as a grand chess master, shrewdly rebuilding the Russian empire through strength and wiles, is laughable. Syria is just one of two countries outside the former Soviet Union where Russia has a military base (the other being Vietnam, and its naval facility there, at Cam Ranh Bay, has shrunk considerably). His annexation of Crimea has proved a financial drain. His incursion into eastern Ukraine (where many ethnic Russians would welcome re-absorption into the Motherland) has stalled after a thin slice was taken at the cost of 3,000 soldiers. His plan for a Eurasian Economic Union, to counter the influence of the west’s European Union, has failed to materialize. His energy deal with China, designed to counter the west’s sanctions against Russian companies, has collapsed.”

I might add that no one seems to be talking about the elephant in the room… and I guarantee you heard about it here, first.  But watch. Just watch as Vladimir Putin gradually and glacially proceeds with his already-done deal to sell China something thy want and that declining Russia cannot keep.


== What’s the deal in Syria? ==

But let’s pull back from that scenario that seems like sci-fi (for now)... and return to today’s headlines. Although Kaplan is more lucid than Krauthammer or Diehl, he still misses the very tight limitations on Putin’s goals in Syria. Seriously? You’ve putting  - or Putin’g – us on, right? 

Russian moves in Syria are clearly aimed at bolstering the Assad regime’s hold on the coastal region where the dictator’s Alawite sect is centered and where Moscow has its only Mediterranean naval base. Moreover this has been a long time coming. Mr. Assad has spent years prepping the Lataika-Tartus coast and its mountain approaches to serve as a redoubt, a refuge for when his hold on Damascus becomes untenable. That coastal mini-state might be held, with Russian help, especially now that the Allawites have engaged in half a decade of ethnic cleansing, though only by surrendering most of the rest of Syria, leaving the West to deal with the Islamic State mess.

A mess that might be resolved by exactly such a partition of Syria! If the Europeans (who want to slow the flow of refugees) and Turkey, which wants an end to the mess, next door, make a deal with the Kurds to consolidate to the east, moving some Kurd populations away from the Turkish border… and Turkey establishes a Sunni safe zone in Aleppo and Iran fires the worst Hezbollites so that a Shiite zone near Lebanon and around Damascus…. Oh but we’re back to sci fi scenarios, again.  Sorry. It just makes more sense.

Though in fact, even my wildest arm-wavings are more realistic than the dismal, diametrically-opposite-to-true stuff you get from Fox.
== International ==

Speaking to the UN, President Xi said that China plans to set up a United Nations permanent peacekeeping force of 8,000 troops and would provide $100 million to the African Union to create an immediate response unit capable of responding to emergencies. In addition to the peacekeeping pledge, Mr. Xi promised a $1 billion donation to the United Nations for a “peace and development fund.”  

This article explains many details and some background. Of course, they are also learning a lot about the logistics of moving lots of troops far and fast…. 

== Visions of Democracy ==

Turning to pop-historical culture... I am pleased to see this comic called Democracy, telling the difficult, tragic and triumphant tale of Athens and its experiment with moving away from pyramids of inherited privilege, toward (partially) respecting the rights and ingenuity of a new kind of being called “citizen.”  

These rebuttals matter to me, after my own eviscerations of the “300” series came online. I ripped Frank Miller’s grotesquely evil paean to Spartan “virtues” in an article that showed how vastly more effective the Athenians were in every field of life, including war.  But above all, how deceitful Miller and his colleagues were in their trumped up propaganda against democratic values.

There I called for a movie about the Athenian admiral Themistocles, who succeeded in every way that Leonidas failed... so imagine my mixed feelings when Director Zack Snyder delivered that very story! Only warped by Miller’s uniquely anti-truth and anti-democratic sentimentality. This, too, I dissected.

But have a look at the new comic. I think you’ll enjoy the refreshing chance to actually see the real story, and how vastly more dramatic and compelling history is… than lies..

== Political manias ==

In the Guardian, an article by one Sam Thielman proves that insipid political mania is ecumenical.  While today’s entire American right wing appears to have gone loco, there certainly are substantial islands of left-wing mania, as well.  

The article on white supremacists is actually very interesting, portraying a neo-Nazi polemicist -- right-wing sci fi author Harold Covington, whose attempts at promulgating incitement novels – fomenting white power revolution – were cited by the Charlseton church shooter, Dylann Roof. As happened in the last century, when Timothy McVeigh cited “The Turner Diaries,” it is only by association with lunatic murderers that such execrably-written trash ever gets attention beyond a small circle of the mentally ill.  A process that Norman Spinrad brilliantly satirized in his novel, The Iron Dream.

So why am I aiming some of my own ire toward Mr. Thielman, if I agree with almost everything he says about such tripe-spinners?  Well, the following should give you a hint:

Covington, the latest in a long line of rightwing sci-fi writers…”  and American science fiction has long had a rightward tilt, from the contemporary strain of small-press sci-fi Tea Party fantasias swarming the Hugo Awards nominations all the way back to libertarian deity Ayn Rand.” 

Alas, this author knows very little of the field. No genre of literature ever did more to question ancient prejudices and pave the mental path for progress than Science Fiction. Let 
tho be a lesson, then.  You can agree with one thing a person says… while also avowing that he/she is -- in other ways -- an ignoramus.


Laurent Weppe said...

From the previous post:

"wealthy Turkish bishop who threw gold coins at prostitutes" is so much less Disney."

Nicholas of Myra wasn't Turkish, he was Greek: Turks were still seventh centuries away from migrating to Anatolia.

Anonymous said...

> were cited by the Charlseton church shooter, ______ ____.

Oy! I had almost forgotten it!

Paul451 said...

Okay, fair point, will you accept "Greek-speaking Anatolian"?

Speaking of Anatolia...

From the main article:
"and Turkey, which wants an end to the mess, next door"

Hardly. One of the main strategic goals of the Kurdish fighters in Syria is to close off access to the Turkish border, because that's how ISIS brings in foreign fighters and weapons. Turkey claims that it only supports the anti-Assad rebels, but their actions say otherwise.

Yes, Turkey would be vastly better off making a long term peace with the Kurds. Using the instability in Iraq and Syria to recognise an independent Kurdistan across the two northern regions, plus offer a small Kurdish piece of sth-east Turkish territory that is currently worthless (or a money-pit) to Turkey due to the violent Kurdish insurgency there. The deal can haggle over things like resource-rents to Turkey for any oil/minerals/etc found in the donated Turkish region, and mutual defence agreements (where Turkish and Kurdish troops act as joint peace-keepers in the new region, as well as cooperating against ISIS and Assad) in order to turn an enemy into an ally. History changing, Nobel peace-prize winning agreements. And so god damn obvious.

But Turkey seems to be locked into the other course. Using ISIS as a proxy weapon against the Kurds, as if encouraging Muslim extremism can't possibly backfire on them.

Re: China's permanent UN force.

Interesting way to gain combat experience, which is considered to be the weakest aspect of China's military. But make it look like a charitable act.

locumranch said...

Instead of merely condemning US conservatives for attempting to confer 'super-villain' status onto Putin, Russia & ISIL, you should ask yourself why US leaders of all political persuasions have fallen over themselves lately in frantic pursuit of a (largely imaginary) 'Unifying External Threat', especially with Obama taunting dragons by sending US missile frigates into Chinese-claimed territorial waters as of this morning.

It is an act of desperation: Our politicians pray for a potential unifying adversary (when not actively creating & seeking one out) because they know that "things fall apart; the centre cannot hold" without the existence of a credible external threat, presaged by a (largely) anti-democratic Arab Spring which has loosed a migratory anarchy upon the EU & the world, hence our increasing cultural dependence on irrationally "passionate intensity", only to worsen with the inevitable onset of cold, because "Winter is Coming" (with apologies to George RR Martin).

So, as a Unified Europe destroys itself by shuttering its borders, an interdependent Russia & USA commence hostilities with their largest symbiotic trading partners (Ukraine & the EU for Russia; China for the USA) and Turkey descends into Civil War, the collaborative pax-related bonds that bind us together dissolve into shades of red & blue, just as the mighty Roman Empire rotted from within into blue & green, once it had freed itself from the unification afforded by either a common enemy or a credible external threat.

For the Sin of Unbalanced & Unopposed Dominance, our Cultural Cycle must 'begin again'.


Jumper said...

Triumph the insult comedy dog at the 2002 Star Wars Premier!

Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch: You are seriously reaching. Take a look at where the territorial dispute is located. China is engaged in island building and then extending their territorial claim into waters claimed by Vietnam, Malaysia, and the Philippines. It's practically open ocean, so our traversing it makes it clear we intend to have it governed that way. It's what a policeman does when one guy bullies another. Walk by and look at everyone involved.

Alfred Differ said...

Turkey isn't in the mood to hand over anything to the Kurds and won't tolerate a Kurdish state. That worthless piece of Anatolia is all they have left from the Ottoman era, so while they would be better off dumping it, they won't unless someone wants to offer them a piece of Greece, Bulgaria, or Romania.

Anonymous said...


I read this article a few weeks back on the "forces of neoreaction" and it absolutely horrified me, but did not surprise me in the least. I am watching the LOTR trilogy with my wife (who has not seen them) and I can see the clear infatuation Tolkien had with the idea of being led by someone with the "right blood" and a pot smoking wizard on hand. Conservative America was willing to forgive us for electing a Black president, but now feels completely betrayed when we reelected Obama. The adulation of Putin and Trump by the Right is clearly the result of a disillusionment with democratic norms. So many of these "Tea Party Patriots" would rather be led by a White king than a Black president.

Mr Brin, I am convinced by your prediction that Putin will sell Siberia to the Chinese, but I have one question. What is he going to do with the profit of that sale? The Rooskies may spend most of their waking hours drunk, but they will still feel a loss of pride at their ever diminishing Motherland. A good chunk of the wad of RMB he gets from Xi will undoubtedly disappear into Putin's pockets, but the rest could be used to finance a glorious subjugation of the Ukrainian people. Or the Estonian people, or Belarus, or Latvia, or... something else that would usher in WW3.


Treebeard said...

Agreed locum. The constitutional republic called the USA became a globalist empire after World War II, and never stood down. Demopublicans will keep trying to swallow nations and territories like Ukraine and remake the world in their image until, like Rome, the whole thing collapses from internal decadence, civil wars, external threats it can't defeat, indifference of the population to the elite's agenda, etc. The American imperial system breaks down without a big, scary enemy because Americans, being a nation only on paper (dollars and laws), will naturally turn on each other and their leaders without an external threat. Muslims weren't powerful enough to be convincing, but a Russia-China axis could be a dream come true for those bent on keeping the Empire intact.

Laurent Weppe said...

* "That worthless piece of Anatolia is all they have left from the Ottoman era"


* "unless someone wants to offer them a piece of Greece, Bulgaria, or Romania."

I know plenty of fellow European citizens who wouldn't mind selling them back the whole Balkans peninsula for a very low price with a Big No Refund clause.


* "So many of these "Tea Party Patriots" would rather be led by a White king than a Black president."

The problem with far-rightists everywhere is that deep-down they'd rather be petty aristocrats in some irrelevant backward satrapy than mere citizens of a super-power: we have the same problem on my side of the Pond, with the so-called "Souverainists" whose endgame is the dismantlement of the European Union so they can more easily turn its weakened member states into despotates.

* "Or the Estonian people, or Belarus, or Latvia, or... something else that would usher in WW3.'

Estonia? Latvia?
There's a reason Putin is spending a lot of money subsidizing european far-right parties: in a straight-up confrontation, the European Union outmatches Russia in pretty much every domains, including the military (the red army juggernaut that could field more soldiers than its enemies could manufacture bullets is long gone): Putin knows that, which is why he's funding gangs of fascist saboteurs to disrupt what he can't afford to openly fight.

David Brin said...

My first experience using WiFi Internet access at 30,000 feet over Canada from Iceland… and I gotta see the crazed Ent here agreeing with L's jabber, making L seem… well… at least _cogently nuts, by comparison. No seriously, L's accusations at least parse well as assertions -- and even (this time) -- with (very) small shreds of truth.

Fact is, two out of three empires DO need to saber rattle, in order to distract their populace. And yes, Bush sought wars proximately in order to profit Cheney-owned companies and a certain petro-prince R'oil House… and yes, those dark motives are certainly ones we have seen many times in the human past and I do not mind someone raising them as assertions toward our government, forcing us to consider...

… but it makes zero sense re the US at this moment. Obama has no rational reasons to add troubles to his plate. Saber rattling will not convert our jingoists to loving him. And at this point the election is his party's to lose, as the Goppers spiral into ever-deeper ravings of insanity.

"Demo-publicans" my ass. Anyone who yours the line that diametric opposites are actually the same thing bears a steep burden of proof.

The sane conservatives I know now admit, the only salvation of the Republican Party is to lose so overwhelmingly that adults get a chance to rebel and retake their movement. If gerrymandering and other cheats go away, then local conservative adult-moderates will stand a chance in primaries against Fox-puppets and the party may get to be a real force at the negotiating table, once more.

That is the current issue. Not defending China's right to stomp onto their neighbors' lawns and piss territory markers on their front doors.

Alfred Differ said...

Istanbul is worth keeping. Some of the Aegean is worth keeping. The lower Danube would be worth taking if only to support the folks nearby against Russian influences. Crimea would be worth taking, but only that far.

The Balkans aren't worth the trouble.
Eastern Anatolia isn't worth the trouble.
Cyprus might be useful, but not for a lot of effort.
Crete is.

Turkey should be offering all this in order to divest itself of eastern territory. Let the Kurds work it out. It's not like the Kurdish state will be stable enough to be a threat. History will repeat with Turkish and Persian intrigue in that region, but neither group benefits from governing it.

Alfred Differ said...

A US President who cannot act effectively on the domestic agenda tends to turn to foreign policy. Disproportionate attention is given there. This is a repeating feature of US politics and should cause those who would compete with us on the world stage pause.

Where is Obama's attention now?

Tony Fisk said...

This is a repeating feature of any politics, as may be seen in the latest exploits of Australia's ex-PM.

Zepp Jamieson said...

I note that both Russia and China have been going out of their way to try to demand Obama's attention: Putin in the Ukraine, China in the shipping lanes. And with Congress effectively non-functional, that limits domestic policy rather drastically.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Brin,

I agree completely with you when it comes to Putin. The Ukraine is the closest country to Russia in shared history, culture, language and religion. It was the largest reservoir of goodwill towards the Russian people and Putin turned them into bitter enemies and over what? Sure the Crimea has some strategic value but let’s not exaggerate its real worth in modern warfare and to boot they controlled it already. Now the Crimea is cut off from water, electricity, and land access to Russia and the consequence is that the Crimea is a huge financial drain. In Donbass they control a sliver of territory that is now economically totally devastated and that now they have to pump money with no end in sight. Putin is a tactical thinker and not a strategic thinker. Like a bad gambler when his plan doesn’t work out (and it didn’t) he doubles down hoping that his next big bet will save him from his mistakes. His Syrian adventure is just this. Assad is losing badly. His political and military power base, the Alawites, have lost one third of their young men in the civil war and have no more to sacrifice. Putin again doubled down and is wagering on a losing horse. Nobody in or out of Syria wants Assad or has confidence in his ability to survive anymore not even the Alawites who are his own people. Certainly a Lataika-Tartus coastal refuge is a nice construct and is a logical development but it is far from sure that it would be a viable entity nor if its leaders will be durably pro-Russian. It would be an enclave under continuous attack and not that easy to defend unless Russia is able to put a lot of soldiers on the ground and that is something the Russian people would not support very much. So he has another open-ended conflict on his hands.
His China opening has made a lot of noise and generated a lot of news articles but in reality it is all wind and no substance. Trade fell with China over the last two years and the projected pipelines announced with great fanfare have all been quietly put on the back burner by China. In desperation Putin rented vast tracks of farm land to Chinese investors who now are demanding that this land be worked by imported Chinese workers and their families and not by Russians!

When this thing with the Ukraine came up I thought that this is the CIA’s dream Russian leader who would systematically destroy any chance of Russia becoming a serious counter power to the US by definitively separating the Ukraine from Russia, by reinvigorating NATO, by unraveling commercial and political ties to Western Europe and by causing a massive drain on Russia’s treasury and military. He is doing all this with enthusiasm and gusto. From a long-term point of view he is Russia’s worst leader since I don’t know who.

DP said...

The Han Chinese are traditional urban dwellers in moderate to warm climates. They have little interest in colonizing the vast, empty frozen wasteland of Siberia. So don't expect any formal redrawing of borders.

OTOH we can fully expect Chinese businesses to fully penetrate the Siberian resources market (minerals, oil, timber, etc.) with contacts (not treaties) that give them effective control and first dibs on the treasures of Siberia.

DP said...

P.S. For an interesting take on previous Soviet brute force methods for colonizing Siberia and why they failed compared to the more organic approach used by Canada in the Arctic:


Cities were an important feature of the plans for a Siberian industrial utopia. Cities were developed in Siberia in tandem with industries to provide a fixed reserve of labor for factories, mines, and oil and gas fields. In many respects, however, the cities were not really cities. Rather than being genuine social and economic entities, they were physical collection points, repositories, and supply centers—utilitarian in the extreme. They were built to suit the needs of industry and the state, rather than the needs of people. Indeed, primary responsibility for planning and constructing city infrastructure fell to the Soviet economic ministry in charge of the enterprise the city was designed to serve. Few responsibilities were assigned to the municipal governments.

Still the cities grew, in both number and size. By the 1970s the Soviet Union had urbanized its coldest regions to an extent far beyond that of any other country in the world. (See box on page 25.) At precisely the time when people in North America and western Europe were moving to warmer regions of their countries, the Soviets were moving in the opposite direction.

But the Soviet economic slowdown of the late 1970s would put an end to such ambitions. By the 1980s the massive investments in Siberia and the Far East were offering extremely low returns. Many huge construction projects were left incomplete or postponed indefinitely. At first, the troubles were blamed on disproportional and incoherent planning, ineffective management, and poor coordination. But by the reformist era of the late 1980s under Mikhail Gorbachev, the problem was seen to be Siberia itself as well as the efforts to develop it. Criticism of the giant outlays in Siberia became commonplace. Regional analysts and planners in Siberia mounted a fierce rearguard action. They tried to justify continued high investment by pointing to the value of the commodities produced in Siberia on world markets and the state's dependence on Siberian natural resources and energy supplies. Still, by 1989 the industrialization of Siberia was beginning to seem a monumental mistake. The Siberian enterprise was, in any case, brought to a screeching halt by the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the beginning of Russia's macroeconomic reforms in the 1990s.

For more than 50 years, Soviet planners built Siberian towns, industrial enterprises, and power stations—although often not roads—where they should never have been built. Huge cities and industrial enterprises, widely spread and for the most part isolated, now dot the vast region. Not a single Siberian city can be considered economically self-sufficient. And pumping large subsidies into Siberia deprives the rest of Russia of the chance for economic growth.

Canada offers an appropriate model. Canada's North is a resource base, but the bulk of the nation's people are located along the U.S. border, close to markets and in the warmest areas of the country. According to the 2002 Canadian Census, Canada's northern territories have less than 1 percent of the nation's total population. Canada's mining industry—and northern industry in general—relies on seasonal labor, with the labor pool shrinking during the coldest winter months and increasing again in summer.

I expect the Chinese to adopt the Canadian approach to exploiting the riches of Siberia.

Anonymous said...

Daniel Duffy,

You said “The Han Chinese are traditional urban dwellers in moderate to warm climates. They have little interest in colonizing the vast, empty frozen wasteland of Siberia. So don't expect any formal redrawing of borders.” This statement is completely wrong.

Han Chinese settlers started moving in mass into Manchuria which borders Far Eastern Siberia starting in the 18th Century with the "Chuang Guandong" movement. The province is now overwhelmingly of Han Chinese ethnicity with the native Manchus making up only a small fraction of the population. There are over 100 million Han there now compared to 6 million Russians in Far Eastern Siberia just to the north. The Han can colonize cold regions quite well.

Anonymous said...

Laurent Weppe,

We both live in Europe and I agree with what you say. The far right parties in Europe love Putin because he is doing what they all dream of doing, namely having just about total control over the political process without the checks and balances of a messy democracy. But I see this increase of far right parties coming not from admiration of Putin or of a desire for fascism in general but much more from the fact that none of the mainstream political parties have addressed the issue of massive immigration thereby giving the far right parties a monopoly on a subject that many citizens are very worried about. The only reason why many people vote for them stems from this single issue. Their economic and social policy solutions are a joke and completely unworkable. Even the people who like Mdm. Le Pen know and say that but they like what she says on immigration and national identity. Countries in Europe have been fighting to keep their national identities for over a thousand years and I doubt if that is going to change now. We tend to forget that Europe throughout history has been a most dangerous continent for minorities whether religious, ethnic or otherwise. It has been a home for pogroms, massive ethnic cleansings, compulsory conversions, forced migrations and just about every other horror that man can invent. What I fear is that a switch in behavior can come suddenly and gain support before the moderate forces in society can react. Democratic institutions in Europe are very strong but I wonder if we have reached a tipping point with the Syrian refuges flooding in uncontrollably and that scares me. The far right parties in Europe don’t care about Putin or Russia but they do like his money and take it happily.

Catfish N. Cod said...

@ Dr. Brin: I can't see the formal transfer of Siberian territory to China whilst Putin remains supreme leader (whatever his formal job title). Given that his propaganda centerpiece is the supposed revitalization of the Russian Empire, it's flat impossible. It can only happen when the ratio of Han to Russki in the Vladivostok region has become imbalanced enough that it's uncomfortable by *Russian* standards to be administering that many Han. After all, the Far East, being the furthest from Moscow and the most undesirable posting, is the last to accommodate political change; for many people there, Communism never fell.

But economic and geographic factors make it darn near inevitable that China will acquire a sphere to the north. Russia only has that territory because China never bothered -- to develop the sort of calvary that could take out the Mongols, or to explore the territory beyond.


@Paul, @Alfred -- you've missed the key reason Turkey does not make territorial deals with Kurds. The Ottoman Empire was a cosmopolitan Empire, and populations were distributed throughout. It was a major trauma in 1920-22 for Greece and Turkey to exchange populations (by native tongue, not by bloodline) in a voluntary act of ethnic cleansing. Turkey didn't want to have to do that with every nationality, which is why a consistent Turkification policy has been in place ever since.

The Turks don't want to cede a Turkish Kurdistan -- and didn't want a Kurdistan at all -- because there are too many Kurds in Turkey proper, including Ankara and Istanbul. It would be a massive disruption, something on the scale of returning the entire African-American population to the Confederate states. There are an estimated two million Kurds in Istanbul alone. You can see why Turkey preferred matters as they were.

However, you can't unscramble the egg*, and Iraqi and Syrian Kurdistan are now effectively autonomous. It's hard to imagine Turkey not following suit eventually. But the sticking point really isn't Turkish revanchism (though that's a problem), it's clarifying the status of the several million Kurds in metropolitan Turkey in a way that all parties would accept.

*Under realistic thermodynamic and chaos-theory-compliant conditions.

locumranch said...

Most human communities, especially those diverse ones composed of non-homogenous populations, increasingly require a clear 'unifying external threat' in order to avoid internal fracture, and this is true on the large federal (China, Russian Federation, EU, USA), smaller national (Iraq, Syria, Libya, Israel, etc) and (relatively tiny) community-sized scale (Mormon, Jewish, Evangelical, etc), which is (1) why the most notoriously persecuted human groups possess the strongest internal cohesion and (2) why the 'evil foreign agitator' argument is the 'go to' narrative for any beleaguered dictatorship, government or community.

Of course, we all like to pretend that our internal (civilised) sociopolitical conflicts are unimportantly minuscule when compared to the major 'positive sum' issues that bind our various communities together, yet this is only true when judged RELATIVE to a much more pressing & greater external threat, meaning that our respective communities are forced to search out ever-increasing sources of external conflict to hold their alliances together, giving rise to what Orwell described as a 'State of Perpetual War':

"War, it will be seen, is now a purely internal affair. In the past, the ruling groups of all countries, although they might recognize their common interest and therefore limit the destructiveness of war, did fight against one another, and the victor always plundered the vanquished. In our own day they are not fighting against one another at all. The war is waged by each ruling group against its own subjects, and the object of the war is not to make or prevent conquests of territory, but to keep the structure of society intact. The very word "war," therefore, has become misleading. It would probably be accurate to say that by becoming continuous war has ceased to exist. The peculiar pressure that is exerted on human beings between the Neolithic Age and the early twentieth century has disappeared and has been replaced by something quite different. The effect would be much the same if the three superstates, instead of fighting one another, should agree to live in perpetual peace, each inviolate within its own boundaries. For in that case each would still be a self-contained universe, freed forever from the sobering influence of external danger. A peace that was truly permanent would be the same as a permanent war. This--although the vast majority of Party members understand it only in a shallower sense--is the inner meaning of the Party slogan: WAR IS PEACE.”

And, if War has now become 'Peace' as Orwell predicted, then it would also follow that any globe, superstate, nation or community that has achieved the mythical (positive sum) state of 'Perpetual Peace' (as our world has) would either require an ever-increasing number of 'False Wars' (on Drugs, Terror, Political Incorrectness, Gender Inequality, Poverty, etc) or descend (shortly) into the Real Thing, as evidenced by the increased global incidence of intertribal conflicts, urban riots, ethnic cleansings and any number of (false) Arab Springs.

Look no farther than Europe (and, eventually, the good old US of A), my friends, for the Real Thing, coming soon to a geographical Theatre near you.


Tacitus said...

Here is what today's BBC has to say on Syria:

"Washington badly needs a new approach. US prestige in the region is at a low point.
Most of its allies are in one way or another negotiating with Moscow, and the clear message is that any new diplomatic path will run through the Russian capital rather than Washington."

I think it is a sizable stretch to say that Conservatives admire Putin. We are not living in those sorts of Red States! Acknowledging the abilities of a dangerous adversary would come closer to the mark. Putin is unfettered by the Rule of Law either at home or on the world stage. Conservatives find this abhorrent.

I think it is important to examine our own bias regularly. Is there any chance that trashing Conservatives over foreign policy matters just might be motivated by a desire to assist a current Presidential candidate whose fingerprints presumably are on the current messes in Libya and Syria?

I will look at my own "pre-sets" here and say that the proposals from various Republicans to identify and support purported moderates in Syria where chimerical. And that any enthusiasm for military intervention in the Syrian civil war, whether it is offered by McCain or Obama or Brin, should be regarded as extremely dangerous.

That being said the apparent increase in at least Special forces raids coupled with whatever tacit cooperation we (hopefully) have with Russian air strikes looks to me to be acceptable risks....for now.

Russia and America have both been burned in the past by putting boots on the ground in unpleasant places. Usually it is worse when one side covertly opposes the other.


Marino said...

Sorry, but I have to disagree a bit with the harsh criticism delivered to the Guardian article. Let's face it, there is a strong streak of rightwing stance within US sci-fi ( you know, I'm Italian from a very far left background, but here sci-fi has been seen mainly as a progressive literature its first scholars here belonged to the left outside the mainstream Communist party, go figure..., and US anti-authoritarianism even in the RAH/Rand flavor appeared opposed to European kind of conservatism, at least before Ronnie & Maggie).

Sad Puppies aside, John Ringo and his good Posleen-fighting SS? A lot of books from Baen catalog (and I buy books there), some stuff by Michael Z. Williamson or Tom Kratman? The pining for monarchy (albeit constitutional) and aristocracy in Weber's Honorverse (to which I was introduced by a late friend of mine who was ever more leftist than me, we're no Zdanovs reborn)? The Probability Breach universe where Alexander Hamilton is as evil as Hitler or Stalin? Or how a criticism of conformism like "Harrison Bergeron" became a codeword against any kind of affirmative action?

Yes I know that you, or U.K LeGuin,or Sturgeon have set a standard of exploring and questioning prejudice, up to and including works like Seth Dickinson's Baru Cormorant.
But there are the Covingtons, the Sad Puppies Vox Daily... "They live" and spread the same message they did in the Carpenter movie

raito said...

While I'd never go so far as to characterize science-fiction itself as being on the right, I'd have to agree that there's a portion that leans that way. But then, I consider all that Joe Campbell jazz to be pretty far right (and Lucas lost an excellent opportunity to actually say something in Star Wars when he decided to go that way). And there's a pile of it in science fiction, along with the rest. There's also a huge pile of pulp 'trash' that's basically stories that fit into any genre except for the rockets and rayguns. And piles of other stuff. So I'll slightly disagree with our host in favor of thinking that a portion of science fiction is as he says, rather than the genre itself.

But in the vein with agreeing with a particular thing while thinking that the context and the conclusions may be questionable, I agree that our leaders find the hard men unfathomable. But being unfathomable doesn't make them smart, and not being smart doesn't make them not hard.

And I'd thought that Russia lost Ukraine a long time ago. Weren't they the ones who said, "We'll keep the missles, thank you"? Or am I mis-remembering.

And last article, when the Objectivist thing came around?

A quote from Stephen Bowie's latest article:

"No, wait, I have to interrupt myself here and swear on a stack of flop sweat-soaked AA pamphlets that I am not making this up. Really.

Okay, are you ready? Edd Byrnes thinks you (or maybe just half of you, I guess) should read:

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (an excellent money book for women)

There. Now you never have to read Edd Byrnes’s “Kookie” No More, because I have done it for you. You’re welcome."

Remember, people like this live among you.

anomie said...

TANSTAAFL: Heinlein was a Right winger, practically a fascist

Tim H. said...

Only after he met Virginia...

duncan cairncross said...

"Right wingers" in science fiction

A lot of the best science fiction writers appear to have started out as right wingers - but the best ones have become much more nuanced as time goes on
David Weber
He started with the enemy (Republic of Haven) having been ruined by "socialism",
he then moves on to reason for the failure being an unbridled aristocracy (legislature families) and then to a foreign plot (Mesa)

I suspect a lot of the initial rightism was due to the fact that literature departments in higher education were the last places where the loony left held complete control

The other thing we forget when reading our classic SciFi is how long ago it was all written
We (now) know what happens when the right wing get to test their strange economic theories - before the test was done it was not obvious how wrong they actually are

We have decades of additional data

I have just read Heinlein's account of his trip around the world and his visit to NZ - I believe he wrote an accurate account BUT my NZ is totally radically unlike the one he wrote about

I would like to think that if Heinlein was still alive he would be supporting Bernie Sanders

DP said...

Deuxglass - refer to the population distribution map found here:


What you are not seeing is much of anyone of any ethnicity living in Manchuria (or for that matter in Inner Mongolia and even worse place to live - nearly as bad as Siberia).

What you do see is lots of Han Chinese living in urban areas intemperate zones.

So no there won't be a mass migration of Han Chinese into Siberia.

Laurent Weppe said...

* "But I see this increase of far right parties coming not from admiration of Putin or of a desire for fascism in general but much more from the fact that none of the mainstream political parties have addressed the issue of massive immigration thereby giving the far right parties a monopoly on a subject that many citizens are very worried about"

That Is Utter Bullshit and you know it

Europe doesn't have an "immigration problem" ("Oh nooooo! 700.000 refugees have entered our 500 million people strong territory, there's no way our juggernaut of a civilization can withstand such a wave of misery upon its shores").
Europe has a downward social mobility problem, that owns a lot more to tax evasions making the social safety net harder to finance and rentier mentality among too many businessmen than to impoverished newcomers and their overqualified and discriminated against offsprings.

When people fear to be on the receiving end of downward social mobility, they become cynical, and a growing number start viewing migrants as unwanted competition while viewing favorably would-be dictators who promise Them a preferential access to the scraps of wealth falling from the upper-class table.
But since it's not socially acceptable to candidly state: "I'm not going to challenge the greedy upper-class because I don't want to punch someone who may be capable of punching back harder, so I'll support politicians who vow to target the recent immigrants, who are not yet numerous nor powerful enough to retaliate as ferociously as the rich kids can" they repeat the self-serving justifications provided to them by the far-right propagandists:

The "National* Identity" quasi-incestuous-fantasy-masquerading-as-political-ideology is nothing more than a defense mechanism, a way for fascists to mitigate the rest of society's animosity toward them:
They want their neighbors to believe that they believe the demagogues' lie: that way the aforementioned neighbors will start wringing their hands, asking themselves "How can we convince them to stop believing the crooks" instead of saying "Okay, the parasitic sociopaths lackeys intend to harm us: let's start finding and implementing ways to keep them from acquiring the capacity to act upon their intent"


* "Putin is unfettered by the Rule of Law either at home or on the world stage. Conservatives find this abhorrent."

Conservatives may find it abhorrent, but authoritarian right-wingers get a massive hard-on when they see a bully proclaiming: "Obey Me for I am stronger than You!"

Laurent Weppe said...

Pat II

* "Sorry, but I have to disagree a bit with the harsh criticism delivered to the Guardian article. Let's face it, there is a strong streak of rightwing stance within US sci-fi"

Moorcock explained it best.
The problem is not ideological per se: as a species, we're hardwired to loooooooove anything resembling karmic justice. Therefore, any story where the bullied becomes stronger than their bully, or where the bully taunts the wrong person will tingle that atavistic nerve and make us feel good:
We cheer when Katniss shoots an explosive arrows at the Capitol's air force, when Luke snaps and cut Vader's arm, when Gilda Soso suddenly gains Doctor Manhattan's power-set after one humiliation too many, when a labor unionist sent back in time beat to death a rapist during the 30 years war before deciding that he's going to turn the European sub-continent into a massive battle of Blair Mountain where this time the aristos will be denied even a pyrrhic victor, when Lisbeth Salander lets her wrath loose, when Tyrion confronts his father a crossbow in hand, when Daenerys Targaryen incinerates slave traffickers, when Hagen starts the Mongrel Revolution, when the Old Empire's nobility recoils in horror as the Fremen crush the Sardaukar and go on violently upending their social order, when Culture lose patience and start flexing their muscle against fundamentalist, fascist, or just plain sadistic regimes that arrogantly thought they could taunt the happy-go-lucky space-hippies with impunity, etc, etc, etc, etc...

Science Fiction as a genre produced a lot of story about roguish uprising, while authoritarians have always excelled at emulating the tone of revolutionaries: because of it, it's rather easy for doctrinaire right-wingers to dwell in the Sci-Fi subgenre.


* "And I'd thought that Russia lost Ukraine a long time ago."

Russia tried to regain Ukraine through the use of of subsidized puppet-politicians. Unfortunately for Moscow, the last one proved to be clownishly corrupt.


* "So no there won't be a mass migration of Han Chinese into Siberia."

Unless Climate Change renders Siberia more temperate and southern China into an uninhabitable-by-Humans mosquitos paradise.

Alfred Differ said...

>>> and a growing number start viewing migrants as unwanted competition while viewing favorably would-be dictators who promise Them a preferential access to the scraps of wealth falling from the upper-class table.

Build the wall
Follow the worm

Pink Floyd helps me keep certain insanities checked. 8)

Anonymous said...

Which part of Siberia would Putin sell? I seriously doubt it would be everything west of the Urals and I doubt if he would sell Far Eastern Siberia either. Doing anything like that would raise up enough opposition to him from inside and outside the government that a coup would certainly take place. Putin is powerful but he doesn’t have absolute control such as Stalin had. Nevertheless there is a part of Siberia that he could sell that would make the Chinese happy and not cause him too much trouble at home. The border between Siberia and North Korea is very short. It is only about 10 miles long but that border cuts off Manchuria from the sea. I have heard rumors that China has approached Russia about leasing that piece of land in order to gain access to the sea and build a deep water port in Posyet Bay thereby facilitating trade between Manchuria and Japan but an outright sale could make sense. Nobody lives there and the land is pretty much worthless. The Chinese government has been investing heavily in the city of Hunchun lately which would serve as the head of this corridor to the sea if a sale is actually in the works. A commercial and/or a military port belonging to China on the Sea of Japan would definably shake up things in the area. My bet would be that this chunk of land is what you are talking about Dr. Brin.

Anonymous said...

Laurent Weppe,

If you don’t think that Europe doesn’t have an immigration problem and that national identity is just a fantasy then I don’t think we have any common ground. Take any poll from a reputable organization and you find that the majority of people in Western Europe are worried about these two issues but you claim that there is no problem. You are way too far on the left tail of the Bell curve for any meaningful discussion to take place.

duncan cairncross said...

Hi Deuxglass

There are two questions
Does Europe have an immigration problem?

Laurent is absolutely correct - Europe does NOT have an immigration problem - the numbers involves are tiny relative to the native populations

Does the population of Europe think that it has an immigration problem?

Separate question - and YES a lot of the population has been hoodwinked into thinking there is a problem

As our host would say "squirrel"

Anonymous said...

Daniel Duffy,

Sure most of the Han in Manchuria are in urban areas and that is no surprise considering that the province contains a lot of heavy industry. Harbin which is located in the northern part is a city of ten million, which is more than most of Siberia, and is a very cold city in winter like Minneapolis so the Han can take cold winters with no problem. So in principle there should be population pressure towards Siberia but in reality Siberia has very little attraction for the people in Manchuria. The reason is that they see little opportunity to make a living there. Far Eastern Siberia is a depressed region while the rest of China to the south is booming so people go south and not north. Manchuria has actually seen a drop in their population because people move to where they can find work and that is definitely not in Siberia. I think the risk of the Russian population being supplanted by a Han population in Far Eastern Siberia is very much exaggerated at least for the moment.

Anonymous said...

Duncan Caincross,

You ask some good questions. We are not talking about the few hundred thousand Syrian immigrants here. It’s about the 25 to 35 million Muslims immigrants already in Europe and reaching levels close to 8% of the population. That in itself is not a problem since most do integrate more or less but there is a part that refuses integration and there lies the problem because this part enhances the perception in the public mind that immigration has become excessive. The far right groups feed and encourage this perception and is way they pull people into their thinking.

You ask if there is an immigration problem in reality and frankly I can’t answer that. Personally I think it will work out in the end and in that sense I am not worried. What worries me is not immigration per se but that the perception that immigration has become excessive in the minds of ordinary people could lead to a situation where these parties actually gain power over the political systems by using people’s fears. If that happens then the tolerance and free-thinking that characterizes Europe today will become a thing of the past and probably will lead to spasms of violence and fanaticism. It has happened before many times within living memory and I don’t think I have to cite examples. To me that is the real danger and not the immigrants themselves.

Tony Fisk said...

When you think about it, Europe has had an immigration problem for several millennia.

duncan cairncross said...

Hi Deuxglass

From a UK (now NZ) perspective I can remember when the "blacks" were the problem then the "Pakis" then the "Poles" now it's the "Muslims"
A guy I worked with in London in the 70's remembered when it was the Welsh

The problem is the neoliberal economics that has been moving wealth up to the rich and making the poor and median worse off
Then blaming the immigrants

The solution in Europe is a dose of Keynesian stimulation and a return to the higher tax rates on the well off
Closing the tax havens would help as well

reason said...

You expect Kurds and Turks to make a deal - only possible if the current government is tossed out.

Anonymous said...

Hi Duncan,

When immigrants are 8% and unemployment is at 10% it makes a seductive although erroneous augment to say get rid of the immigrants and unemployment falls to 2%. This is ridiculous of course but it works for many people because they want to believe that all their problems can be solved with one simple solution. The far right ties this in with crime, low wages, problems in school for their kids, and just about any other societal problem and it works. That is their strength, to pose a simple solution to complex problems. Once they are in this mindset you can introduce other more troubling ideas. Countering this argument is not easy at all for the traditional parties.

You are from NZ? My wife and I are planning a vacation there next year. I hear it’s a fantastic place.

Catfish N. Cod said...

The reason is that they see little opportunity to make a living there. Far Eastern Siberia is a depressed region while the rest of China to the south is booming so people go south and not north.

See, China doesn't actually have to physically occupy Siberia; and making claims is pointless as long as Putin or his successors are willing to deal. Siberia, like northern Canada, is resources; the domain of lumberjacks and miners and wildcat oil drillers and so on. Primary producers. Major migration to Siberia should happen at the same time as the Northwest Territory, i.e., when global warming shifts the climate so much that it becomes agriculturally productive. That will take a long time.

What can happen is the resources ceasing to flow west to Moscow or east to Vladivostok for sale, but south across the border to the world's largest economy. In other words, Daniel Duffy's Canadian scenario. The Kremlin gets a cut so it can continue to fund its efforts to the west and south of Moscow, and the graft that keeps the machine oiled, for however long this charade lasts. (Which could be decades.)

@Deuxglass: you make a good point. The far right parties are more a threat to Europe (both as individual countries and as a whole) than the assimilation problem they claim to solve.

@Duncan: I don't know that Keynesianism would solve Europe's economic problems, as the imbalance of monetary rights and responsibilities (between the Eurofed/Germany/rich north/poor south) is unsolved and a real issue. But putting millions back to work a la the CCC couldn't hurt and would cut down on far-right support.

Paul SB said...


I have known plenty of people who thought Heinlein was a right-wing fascist, most of whom were right-wing fascists themselves. They quoted Heinlein like others quote the Bible. I don't think those people were reading between the lines at all. Just think about TANTSTAFL - There ain't no such thing as a free lunch. That book was written in the 1950's, when American airwaves were full of tales of WW 2. To most people of that time, that acronym sounded very much like Jagdstaffel, a German military term that would conjure up the uncomfortable image of Nazi warplanes filling the sky. It seems to me like he was associating the ideals of right-wing business people with the Nazis, which is the opposite of what your typical right-wing business nazi would think. But then, that's how I interpreted it. He seemed like a much more subtle thinker than many people got - like some others whose verses get thrown around a lot.

Tim H. said...

Duncan, as to where would Heinlein be politically now, it's been claimed that his embrace of conservatism was at least partially that he was convinced it would be more effective against Stalin's mutant, aberrant form of socialism. In hindsight, it seems he was misled. If Heinlein had lived to see the wall come down, there is a chance his politics would have shifted rapidly, after all, he was at one time associated with Upton Sinclair.

Laurent Weppe said...

* "If you don’t think that Europe doesn’t have an immigration problem and that national identity is just a fantasy"

You're getting lost in your double negatives here...

Anyway: European Nation-States are recent artificial constructs, but they are very real.
The ethnocentric identitarian narrative peddled by the far-right on the other hand is a convenient fiction.

To give an example: the French Nation is a real thing that exists since the XIXth century: the French Crown came first, then came the French State, and finally the Nation appeared After the revolutionaries cut the head that wore the crown.
On the other hand, "La France √Čternelle", that supposedly materialized when the Celts' ancestors genocided Cro-Magnon, is a (fairly recent) fairy tale.

And if a large chunk of a given population pretends to believe that type of ethnicist fable, it doesn't make it more real, it just demonstrates that a large chunk of this given population are liars.


* "It’s about the 25 to 35 million Muslims immigrants already in Europe and reaching levels close to 8% of the population"

This claim is false on at least two levels:
First it implies sectarian determinism ("Muslims don't integrate because they follow a foreign religion" They used to peddle that Bullshit about Catholic Italian immigrants being "unassimilable" in France because their latin brand of latin Catholicism was supposedly more backward than France's "enlightened" brand of latin Catholicism).
And second it is based on deliberate statistical obfuscation: the 8% number represents all of the European subcontinent, including countries were Muslims have been the majority for centuries (Bosnia, Albania), and including Russia: it counts the Bashkir Muslims to make the number of Muslims dwelling in the EU (around 13 million people in 2007) appear larger.


* "The solution in Europe is a dose of Keynesian stimulation and a return to the higher tax rates on the well off
Closing the tax havens would help as well

Closing the tax havens (and ending the many loopholes that allow the wealthiest to enrich themselves through subsidies) would render increasing the tax rates redundant (Greece own its crisis to tax evasion)

locumranch said...

Like Merkel, Laurent is superficially correct: Europe does NOT have an immigration problem. It has a labour shortage. Specifically, it needs more *younger* workers and *increased* immigration is the best solution to this pending European Elder Democalypse.

But, what Merkel & Laurent refuse to acknowledge is that Europe (if it is to remain Europe) needs polite, queue-obedient, law-abiding European immigrants, not an army of angry young entitled Muslim men who have (1) routinely disobeyed most local civil laws, (2) demand special (unearned) privileges, support, transport & housing, (3) destroyed or failed to protect their own nations, (4) prefer Sharia Law to Western Law and (5) refuse to assimilate to western mores.

The same is true with Russia giving up Siberia to China. It would be the logical thing to do if their cultures & populations were *equal*, *fair*, *interchangeable* and *balanced* yet, as they are NOT, Russia would *cease to exist* under such an arrangement, as it's mere 143 million cultural Russians were swallowed whole by almost a billion ethnic Chinese.

Historically speaking, of course, the USA (Australia, too) was an exception to this rule as it forced assimilation into a *cultural melting pot*, yet progressives everywhere forget that this was (1) a severely painful & problematic process for all concerned (No Irish!!), (2) presupposed severe restrictions on total number of (accepted) immigrants, and (3) only occurred because the dominant culture demanded immediate assimilation, a uniformity of language and the rejection of diversity, an experience that Asimov documented (obsessively) in his biography & one shared by most immigrant families prior to the rise of Thulsa Doom's Diversity Cult.

If 'All Things were Equal', than the current state of Mass European Immigration would be a Godsend. Too bad, so sad, that there exists an inherent INEQUALITY in all things.


Anonymous said...

The simplistic binary between the well-documented rightward streak (or why did the Science Fiction Writers of America rescind honorary membership to Polish novelist Stanislaw Lem?) and Whiggish Progress That Is Somehow Always Accelerating Upwards And Brighter may be profitable to set against other opinions on what has passed for progress, recently.

"As for our thoughts, our intellectual apparatus, our rationalisms and our logics and our deductions, and so on, it can be said with absolute certainty that dogs and cats and monkeys cannot make a rocket to fly to the moon or weave artificial dress materials out of the by-products of petroleum, but as we sit in the ruins of this variety of intelligence, it is hard to give it much value: I suppose we are under-valuing it now as we over-valued it then. It will have to find its place: I believe a pretty low place, at that." -- Doris Lessing. "The Memoirs of a Survivor". Vintage Books. p.81.

Tacitus said...

The history of the Hmong and their acculturation to America is an interesting study. By most standards things have gone well for them. Most of the early culture discordance seems to have abated. We have fewer Hmong gangs, fewer issues on "bride napping", fewer egregious game and fish law violations. Stats are difficult to separate out but their standard of living sure seems to be improving with each generation. If there is animus against them it seems to be minor these days. They seem to be fitting in very well.

I mention this group because they came from circumstances very different from America. Probably more so than other successful groups such as the Irish and the Eastern European of the 19th and early 20th century.

I don't know if immigrants from Africa and/or Islamic regions will be different. Sharia law would be an assimilation deal breaker if it were practiced aggressively.

I defer to our European commentators on the situation there. But are there stats on fertility rates of recent immigrants versus those who have been in Europe for a few generations? My sense is that there is a discrepancy. It would not take so very long for a group of immigrants with high fertility to become a dominant factor in areas where the overall fertility rate is below replacement.

If you set replacement as under 2 births per woman, the larger countries with a seriously sub replacement rate in Europe are:

Portugal 1.24
Greece 1.3
Poland 1.33
Spain 1.38
Germany 1.44
Italy 1.49
Austria 1.53
Czech Repub 1.54

These are 2015 estimates so the economic dent of 2008 might be less of a factor although the so called PIGS nations are of course still hurting and still not producing more new mouths to feed.

Immigration issues always seem a little touchy. I hope nobody imputes to me any ill intent in discussing them.


ps in 1989 the Hmong community had 9.5 children per woman. Less now but it speaks to my theory.

David Brin said...

At the NIAC meeting, my last stop. Many inspiring and daring concepts for improving space technologies. Watching a super exciting talk on Pluto. We did this. The implications are almost… no fully and genuinely… theological.

Responses: Robert Heinlein spent far more of his life as a liberal activist and democratic candidate for local offices than he did as a purported guru of the right. Even later he was in favor of socialism for all basic human needs… mixed with cutthroat competition in any creative realm. And with many variations in detail, I agree with that.

Stanislaw Lem? He was a great and imaginative writer, but to SFWA's support and honorary membership - supporting him against his communist persecutors -- he responded with some of the most viciously nasty insults to American-British science fiction imaginable. Sure, he did that in order to help get the communist overlords off his own back, but it was still a churlish act of snippy ingratitude…

…to which the SWFA leadership responded: "Okay, since the honorary membership helped you to get an american publisher, that qualifies you for regular membership and we are converting the honorary to regular."

Sure that was a mistake. It led to a completely unnecessary indignation furor, which no doubt pleased Lem tremendously. But to make grand, simplistic declarations about that event, without understanding the actual history, is silly.

Anonymous said...

Laurent Weppe,

The figures I gave came from a report by Pews of over 200 pages and uses official statistics by “60 Eurostat” which is the official statistical office of the European Union, situated in Luxembourg. It gives a total of 44 million Muslims as of the year 2010 for the European continent and it includes Russia, Albania, Bosnia and so forth. If we exclude Russia’s 13 million the total then falls to 31 million for the European Union itself which is what I said. The source you gave for your figures comes from an organization called “The European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia” which is advocacy group not known for its impartiality. I noticed that the figure of 13 million comes from official and UNOFFICIAL data. They wrote that in directly after the number. I guess that that’s their way of saying they massage the data to get the figure they like. Unless you doubt the veracity of Pews and “60 Eurostat” then you should accept my figures. If you want to check the data yourself then you can find the report here:

Anonymous said...


In the Pews report I mentioned they do give a good view of fertility rates of recent immigrants compared to second and third generation immigrants and generally their birth rates are a bit higher than the indigenous population but not by much. Overall they mirror the host country’s pattern.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Brin,

I never heard you link something scientific to something "almost… no fully and genuinely… theological". You must have heard something more than just amazing. I am dying to hear about it.

duncan cairncross said...

Hi Deuxglass
I'm in NZ - near the bottom of South Island

I like NZ - it's not paradise but it's pretty good
What do you guys like to do? to see?
Let me know and I will give you my tuppence worth of advice,

If you end up down here (Gore) I will feed you, might even have a room you can use
Gore is the "Brown Trout Capital of the World" - I'm not a fisherman myself but the Trout here are much much bigger than I remember from Scotland

my email is my name with a dot between the words @xtra.co.nz

David Brin said...

Deuxglass, Voyager -- way back in the 1970s - and now New Horizons were examples of competence beyond what one normally deems even remotely possible. A million things could go wrong, but still we did these things. Better than we have done anything in the history of our species.

If this kind of thing is "hubris" then God either likes it (!) or at least does not oppose it. Messing it up would be as trivial as shifting a single small pebble into the way. That is Experimental Theology.


Now onward