The Balkans

The Balkans, similarly to the Iberian Peninsula, have been the place where Muslims have made inroads into the European continent; the region has often been a scenery for many hostilities between both the local small powers and the external large players. In the 20 century alone the region saw two wars of 1912-1913, two world wars (with the first being triggered here) and numerous civil armed conflicts among the republics of former Yugoslavia.

Broadly, the Balkans can be divided into Eastern (Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, a small chunk of Turkey this side the Bosporus), Western (territories occupied once by Yugoslavia) and Southern (Greece).

Ethnically, the Balkans is home to Slavic (Slovenians, Croats, Serbs, Montenegrins, Bosnians, Macedonians, Bulgarians) and non-Slavic peoples (Hungarians, Romanians, Albanians, Greeks and Turks). In terms of religion (the fact that determines to which civilisation model a particular nation belongs), the inhabitants are either Muslim (most of Albanians, some Bosnians, Turks) or Christian of either the Catholic (Slovenians, Croats, Hungarians, a sizable part of Albanians, especially in the north of the country) and Orthodox (Romanians, Bulgarians, Serbs, Bosnians, Montenegrins, Macedonians, Greeks) creeds. Notice in passing that not all Slavs are Orthodox Christian (some are Catholic, some are Muslim) and that Orthodox Christianity is the creed of non-Slavic Greeks and Romanians.

The three great historical influences were two European and one Asian powers. The former were the Germans either of the Hapsburg and then Austria-Hungary monarchy, followed by Germany, and Russia; the latter was the Ottoman Empire or its descendant: Turkey. It was in the Middle Ages that Hungary began to rule Croatia and north-western parts of today’s Romania. The German Habsburgs dynasty gradually expanded to control Hungary with the latter’s territorial gains as well as making military or diplomatic conquests of its own, extending its rule by incorporating Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1908. It was the German house of Hohenzollern, which provided monarchs to the nascent forms of statehood of Greece, Bulgaria and Romania. The Russian Empire rendered significant aid to Greece and then to Serbia and Bulgaria in the respective nations’ wars of independence from the Ottoman Empire. Turkey may have withdrawn from the region, but it maintained close ties to the German Empire and the Third Reich and left behind a numerically significant Muslim population. Soviet Russia continued to be interested in the Balkans and gained control over most of it after the Second World War. Continue reading

Gefira 60: West-East – a Long-Running Feud

There are two or four – depending on the point of view – political powers that vie for global dominance: the collective West, and the collective East. The former is made up of the English-speaking countries (Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand) and the European Union with Germany as its leader and France as the leader’s right-hand man; the latter is composed of the Russian Federation and China. In either political camp there are centripetal and centrifugal forces. Apparently, Berlin and Paris go hand in hand with Washington and London when it comes to subverting the stability in Belarus, Ukraine and Russia; for all that, France and Germany seek to emancipate themselves from American patronizing. Similarly, Moscow and Beijing are mutually attracted by shared interests and simultaneously divided by frictions. Russia and the Middle Kingdom make a stand against the collective West, which they perceive as a threat. Still, they vie for preponderance in Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kirghistan), Siberia and generally for leadership in this part of the world. The conflict between the Anglophere and Russia seems to be coming to the fore, with China and the European Union creating a backdrop to it. The Geneva talks held recently between Washington and Moscow look like a continuation of similar endless negotiations between the United States and the former Soviet Union. The first Cold War ended, the second one is in progress. The former brought a peaceful victory for one party to the conflict; how will the current one end? In a hot war? In another relatively peaceful solution? Which country will emerge victorious?

The ideologically motivated green economy seems to be doing a grave disservice to the collective West and especially the European Union. Prices for energy are skyrocketing while measures taken to combat the notorious virus stymie huge sections of economy and make Europeans and Americans feel insecure about the future. Add to it the rapidly changing ethnic make-up of the Old Continent and its extension across the Atlantic and you begin to wonder why should Washington, London, Paris and Berlin be concerned with Moscow and Beijing in the first place. Are German Turks, French Algerians or English Sikhs really going to fight tooth and claw against Russians and Chinese to defend their adopted father-?, mother?-lands if even these words and the notion of national patriotism are frowned upon by the post-Western world hell-bent on extirpating all traditional values of loyalty, self-sacrifice, family and faith? Who do the post-Western liberal governments want to rely upon in times of trouble? On deracinated indigenous Europeans and Americans or on “new” Europeans and Americans made dependent on the welfare, protective, and ubiquitous state? Or maybe on both kinds of Europeans and Americans, those who have been taught to feel guilty about their heritage and pacifist in their dealings with other nations, and those new Europeans and Americans who have been taught to hate European heritage while living off the fat of the land produced by those they hate?

 

Gefira Financial Bulletin #60 is available now

  • West-East – a Long-Running Feud
  • Historical events in the making
  • What can we expect in 2022? Forecasts and recommendations
  • Inflation, price regulations and possible social protests

What is Kazakhstan about?

That the Russians and Belarusians are invading Kazakhstan right now is no wonder at all: the subversives, protesting against higher gas and fuel prices, also demanded that Kazakhstan abandon all alliances with Russia and that both President Tokayev and the government resign immediately. Moscow cannot put up with such political demands. Kazakhstan is a major oil and gas producer and also supplies about 40 per cent of the world’s uranium. Kazakhstan is home to a number of first-class mining companies: Lukoil from Russia, CNPC from China, Chevron and ExxonMobil from the USA, Shell from the Netherlands, ENI from Italy, and Total from France. Insofar as oil and gas extraction has been allowed to the foreign corporations, uranium extraction remains in Kazakh hands. It is a tasty morsel for all the countries that talk so much about green energy at the moment, but in fact are preparing for the future that will be based on nuclear energy. After all, Russia’s nuclear missiles and power plants, Baikonur and space presence depend on Kazakhstan.

Rioters topple statues of Nursultan Nazarbayev, the “Elbasy”, the father of the nation, as Nazarbayev is called for life, the man who once guaranteed friendly relations with Moscow as long as he was honorary chairman of the Security Council. The Nazarbayev-Tokayev tandem has been uneasy for some time, however, and now the Father of the Nation left his fatherland aboard the private plane of his son-in-law Timur Kulibayev, a billionaire and one of Kazakhstan’s richest men. We know such stories from different countries. Main characters: oligarchs serving foreign capital. Behind the protests could be Mukhtar Ablyazov, another controversial oligarch who is at odds with the current government team in Kazakhstan and who used to live permanently in Paris, but is now in Kiev. Please note: in Kiev. If you think about the role of the oligarchs in the upheavals in Ukraine in recent years and at present, it will immediately become clear to you that this is an attack by the West, namely the USA and Ukraine, who want to “facilitate” the forthcoming talks between Biden and Putin with a blow to the “soft underbelly” of Russia, i.e. Kazakhstan.

Tokayev has also taken advantage of current events domestically to remove the government that was loyal to Nazarbayev and especially Abish Satidbaldila, the former president’s “man” who was deputy chairman of the Public Security Committee. As a result, Tokayev took full power, which enabled him to get rid of Nazarbayev painlessly. From Moscow’s point of view, what happened is actually a palace revolution, a shock. Not only because, as it turned out, in practice there is no ironclad guarantee of life for the former head of state, but also because Putin has been demonstrably respectful towards Nazarbayev and somewhat, perhaps even more, disrespectful towards Tokayev. At the recent CIS summit in St. Petersburg, he met with “Elbasy” and found no time to talk to the current president. It is likely that if a new government is formed, relations with Moscow will be different and probably more difficult for Russia.

The Western world is enthusiastic about the revolution and interprets what is happening on the streets as a struggle against dictatorship and for democracy, but it seems to me that this perspective is misleading and that it is worth looking at the situation in Kazakhstan from a different, non-European angle. We tend to see the roots of the revolutionary events in the bad mood related to poverty and the lack of reforms in the authoritarian state, which drives people to the extreme and to the streets. Apart from what can be seen with the naked eye and what is difficult to question, there is an even deeper level, which is the logic of the people living there. In any Central Asian society, clan and family relations are more important than political divisions or material differences.

Continue reading

Geopolitics 2022 – before the volcano erupts

Before a volcano erupts, there are warnings. The earth shakes, it stinks of sulphur. Cracks appear.

The confrontation between the great powers enters its final phase. The leading media tell us that humanity should have learned a lesson from the twentieth century. There should be no more wars, in the world government (UN, G20, G8, EU, ASEAN, IMF, WTO, …) all countries are working hand in hand for a bright future. Rubbish! If there had been no nuclear weapons, World War III – a massive, mutual attack – would have started long ago. Globalization and world trade have a soporific effect on people’s consciousness. Nuclear weapons, on the other hand, have a sobering effect. Cruise ships sail happy passengers between hostile countries, other huge container ships transport goods on order, even if a stubborn president introduces tariffs once in a while. The world seems so intertwined and united by WTO that any conflict with weapons seems unprofitable and barbaric. Yet, it is the fleets of the great powers that “secure” this peace. Still, the tension between the powers is constantly growing. Have Americans, for instance, resigned themselves to the fact that China is growing like a yeast dough? That the Chinese dragon, fed by outsourced American economics, is slowly but surely swallowing Eurasia? The off-shore balancer always intervened in history when someone threatened his domination. Just as England once fought everyone (Spain, France, Russia, Germany) in Europe to preserve its hegemony on the Old Continent for decades, so too did the US fight Japan in the 1940s to secure its dominance in the Pacific. China is now expanding its influence in Southeast Asia. Australia is responding by buying American nuclear submarines, which were previously unavailable. In this way, the USA is trying to balance the equilibrium in the Pacific region. Australia was originally supposed to get the submarines from France but cancelled the contract and became entangled in the conflict with Paris, as these submarines could not have technically withstood the Chinese ones. Thus, rifts develop between countries that have had peaceful relations for years: France and Australia.

Do you remember the brilliant Japanese General Yamamoto and his famous appearance at the General Staff in Tokyo shortly before the attack on Pearl Harbor? He defied his colleagues at the time and flooded them with data (steel production: USA produces 5 times more than us, aluminium production is 10 times larger than that of Japan, etc.), which was an argument for not starting the war against the USA. The decision-makers did not listen, and Yamamoto had to die for his homeland later. Imagine a Chinese general who now, at the end of 2021, wants to convince his colleagues of the superiority of the USA in readiness for war. They would laugh at him. After all, China has long since surpassed the USA in many areas that are most important for waging war. By the way, American weapons are based on electronics, and electronics are semiconductors and microcontrollers. Hence 20,000 US soldiers on Taiwan, where these parts are mainly produced. And ask yourself: how many days would it take China to occupy Taiwan? A new blitzkrieg on the horizon? How quickly can the current state of affairs be overturned? Continue reading

Guilt, compassion, fear

How do we know that we are being primed to accept a world government or one global state? If you do not let yourself be intimidated by the wire-pullers who will immediately start calling you a conspiracy theory follower, then the observation of your own senses is more than enough. Begin with handbooks to foreign languages. Why of all the topic it is globalism and the world as a global village a leitmotif in all of them? Why rather than present the language and its intricacies through something in the vein of Aesop’s fables and ordinary adventure stories along with dialogues do the students get politicized themes of globalism and climate change? It certainly does not happen by chance. Why, do you talk to your own child or grandchild about globalism or climate change of all the topics? I guess you don’t. Yet, the authors of textbooks seem to be hellbent on such problems.

What do you make of all those international conferences that necessarily seek to make all countries agree to pursue the same policy about:

  • women’s rights,

  • reproductive rights,

  • migration compacts;

  • human rights;

and many others? Ask yourself a question why all governments should be made to sign all those treaties, compacts, and agreements. To make it easier for you: why should you sign an agreement with a bunch of your neighbors that you promise to refrain from abusing your wife and children? Why should you need such an agreement if you are a decent man? Notice that all governments declare to be decent. Conversely, how on earth could such an agreement turn you into a decent man if you are not one? Why should you relegate power over your household to your neighbours? Who and how will evaluate whether you are abusive or not, which acts constitute abuse and which do not? Finally, how would you be capable of defending years against interference once you have allowed others to step into your affairs when they see fit? Go and make such an accord with your neighbours. Not willing?

We have the dollar as the international currency, we have the World Bank, the Bank of International Settlements, the International Monetary Fund. All human activity is internationalized and taken away from the prerogatives of national governments. Why? Continue reading

Gefira 59: Astride the Borderline Between the Past and the Future

“Astride the Borderline Between the Past and the Future” or Gefra 59 says goodbye to 2021 and looks beyond 2022. The year that is coming to its end has left the world with a mountain of money in circulation, which by no means implies that money creation has reached its limits. To the contrary. The system in which money is loaned on condition that more is paid back, the system in which numerous measures aimed at saving world economy – like quantitative easing along with the steps taken to cushion the effects of the global lockdown that does not appear to end anytime soon – the system that enlarges the heap of banknotes exponentially seems to be doomed. This is what we are leaving behind and what will – no doubt – linger on well into the rest of the 2020s. And besides?

Besides, we will be more and more intensely confronted with the development of science and technology that forcibly enter our lives, our biological and psychological lives. It is gene editing, artificial intelligence, the internet of bodies, and the merge of them all that is meant here. We – or at least our children and grandchildren – are promised to become supermen and superwomen, equipped with capabilities like infrared vision, very low muscle fatigue, resistance to ionizing radiation, hand-free control of external devices and remote thought exchange between individuals. Our lives will be longer and we will possibly attain immortality, while death will be a thing of the past. What do you feel when you hear about such a future: excitement or fear?

 

Gefira Financial Bulletin #59 is available now

  • Astride the Borderline Between the Past and the Future
  • Are we in for a Frankensteinian world?
  • Conflation between human beings and digital devices
  • Milkshake Theory

Err on the safe side

It is very often that we come across a statement, a remark, that someone somewhere at a time expressed an anti- (here comes the name of an ethnic group or biological sex) bias or prejudice. Such a statement or remark evaluates the person who has prejudices against a group, a class, a nation, a race, a category of people.

The evaluators of people expressing biased opinions obviously follow this train of thought. You wake up in the morning, you start thinking about a group of people, a nation, a social class and for want of a useful occupation, out of boredom or stupidity or God knows what, you develop a negative opinion about that group, that nation or that class that you have never come into contact with. You formulate your opinion out of thin air and then stubbornly stick to it against the evidence of your senses, even if you mingle with many representatives of the said group, nation or class and are positively impressed. In a word, you create a world of your own and this invented world is more real to you than the one accessible through your senses.

Good heavens! Isn’t it the other way around? Clearly, we do not form opinions about anything and anybody until and unless we come into contact with this thing or that person. Imagine a child who first learns about the existence of Eskimos in a very simple way: he sees a drawing in a children book of a man or maybe a family against the backdrop of an igloo. Do you really think the child will start developing bias or prejudice? What if the drawing is complete with a nice-looking polar bear and a seal emerging from a hole in the ice? Do you really think the child will start forming bias and prejudice?

True, we may take over the opinion of something or somebody, of a collective, from our relatives, friends, acquaintances, from books or films, but then those relatives, friends, acquaintances, the authors of those books and the scriptwriters of those films must have come into contact with the thing, or individual or group of individuals, or they themselves have inherited the opinion from their relatives, friends and acquaintances, but then the same chain of causes and results applies until we reach those who did come into contact with a group of people, an ethnic group and by mingling with them have gathered experience which led them to formulate positive or negative evaluations.

Which of the two explanations sounds plausible? Continue reading