25 July, 2024


Troubling Fault Lines Crisscross The World

By Kumar David

Prof. Kumar David

Nostradamus would say: “Seven signs the end of the world is neigh” – Troubling fault lines crisscross the world

Not all seven omens on my list are apocalyptic in that they do not all portend the end of life as we know it on the planet; only the first two are sure bet doomsday. Nor are all seven equally likely; my gut feeling is that only the first is a near certainty. The rest are malleable to policy, preventable, or avoidable with a pinch of luck. Here is my doomsday list coaxed from shenanigans and visible trends, listed in order of calamitous consequence, not in order of likelihood. That is (a) to (g) are ordered by how appalling the consequences. The numeral after each item is a guess at likelihood of occurrence – how likely, but not how soon. It is a coincidence that (a) is also (1).  

1. Global warming and melting of the great ice-caps (1)

2. Russo-American nuclear armageddon ignited by an event like the Syrian conflict (7)

3. Trade war between China and the US, possibly extending to other US trading partners (2)

4. An Israeli-American first-strike on Iran followed by general conflagration in the Middle East (3)

5. An American first-strike on North Korea followed by whatever response the later can offer (4)

6. Neo-populist (alt-right) movements, now sweeping across Europe, taking a neo-fascist turn (6)

7. Chaos in America following impeachment or deep-state elimination of Trump (5)

It is reasonable to include all the above on the ‘possible’ list though not everyone will agree with my ordering of awfulness. But surely no one doubts that items (a) and (b) spell the end of life on the planet as we now know it, and hence head the list. Anthropogenic climate change, that is the effect of human activity known as global warming (a), seems irreversible, though we may be OK for about a century. The melting of the Artic, Greenland and Antarctic ice-caps, rising sea levels, global drought and water shortage, crop failure and famine, within two centuries already seem too late to reverse. I am aware that climatologists say that if we do this and that (limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees C and reduce greenhouse emissions below certain limits) we can stave off the worst, but the subtext is clear. They can’t say “It’s too late, the damage has been done; there is no sign of reversal”; they’ll be driven out and their research grants terminated, but the pessimism is hard to miss.   

Capital’s greed for profit puts mammon above mother earth, promotes fracking, poisons the seas and strips the forests. I have met Brazilian businessmen who drool that felling every tree in the Amazon is good for business; I have primitive relatives in the US who would like to shred every environmental regulation that get in the way of investors – oddly, they are Micawbers, themselves as poor as church mice! Don’t blame capital alone; humanity in the mass is plain deaf to Gaia – respect for mother earth, a concept traceable to Teilhard de Chardin though the word was coined later. People pay lip service to the environment but the great majority will not lift a finger to do anything about it. 

Research findings reported in the Times of India on 16 April theorise that the Bronze Age Indus Valley civilisation, better known as Moheno-daro, Harappa and small sites spread over a large area, was extinguished by a 900-year drought from 2350 BC to 1450 BC. A 900-year drought doesn’t make sense. Not even the previous theory of a 200-year drought makes sense to me, but that’s what the IIT Kharagpur experts say. And a long drought in a specific region is small change compared to global climatological disorder on a planetary scale.

Nuclear conflict between superpowers will result in a long winter lasting decades. The effect will be similar though less severe and briefer than a climatological catastrophe. Hence it scores a (b), but it is avoidable, indeed it is unlikely. If say a deranged Trump presses the nuclear button I think his generals will disobey. This is why I have number scored it at (7). Radiation, nuclear winter, loss of life on a very large scale and a complete redirection of world history, or what survives of it after humanity reawakens, are themes that readers have been exposed to. I want to skip past this and go down the list quickly. 

The ordering of items (c), (d) and (e) and their number-order from (2) to (4) are up for grabs; switch them around if it seems more sensible to you. The destruction following (d) or (e) will be horrific but localised. A conflagration in the Middle East following an Israeli-US strike on Iran will be protracted; Lebanon, Syria and Iraq will go up in flames and global terrorism will raise its head again. The effect of (d) will linger for a long time unlike (e), a US strike on North Korea. The consequences of the latter will be sharp, nasty and brutal but unless North Korea can deliver a nuclear device on American soil the firestorm will be comparatively short-lived. Actually, I am in a bit of a hurry to drop (d) and (e) and spend the rest of this piece on (c) and (g). 

Trump confounded about trade 

Trump bounces in and out of TPP and NAFTA as if he were playing badminton. The latest target is China. US imports from China in 2017 were valued at $506 billion while exports to China were only $130 billion; a net trade deficit of $376 billion ($350 billion in 2016, $340 billion in 2015). This is the worst US trading relationship; others are smaller. It’s been like this for years leaving US Treasury Bonds of $1.3 trillion in Chinese hands; Japan holds $1.1 trillion. Total US debt is about $70 trillion; government $20 billion, corporate $25 billion and household $15 billion. Of the gross US government debt of $20 trillion, $5 trillion is owed to foreigners, of which the Chinese hold the largest share, 26%. That’s a thumb-nail sketch.

Threats by the US and Chinese have been blow-for-blow, but in between, exhausted by blow jobs they subside into sanity and talks. The first US blow was tariffs on $1.7 billion worth of steel and aluminium imports from China. China responded with tariffs on a similar value of imports; all small change. Next the Americans demanded a $100 billion reduction in the trade deficit, the Chinese said ‘impossible’ and then came the big threat; to impose tariffs on $46 billion of imports from China – electronics $27 billion, medical equipment $6 billion, TV & displays $5 billion, printers $3 billion and very long list of lesser items. China responded with a shorter but more potent list covering $50 billion of US exports to China – aircraft $16 billion, soya beans $12 billion, cars $11 billion and a few small items. This hits very hard because of the crafty choice of products. Soyabeans will hit Trumps rural Midwestern base, aircraft will be traumatic because China is projected to be the world’s biggest aviation market by 2022, and cars means jobs. Passions seem to have cooled for the moment.

The real problem, however, is elsewhere – alleged industrial and intellectual property theft, contractual insistence by Chinese joint venture partners that Americans hand over technology, and regulatory pressure to reveal hi-tech information. The Americans see the first item as robbery; the second and third they deem unfair access to trade and research secrets. The Chinese see the latter two as a technology upgrade and development strategy.  I can’t see how this tangle can be resolved though the standoff on import tariffs may be amenable to negotiated arrangements. This is why I have rated it at (2) on the number scale, meaning it will be difficult to circumvent.

Trump’s lifespan

Donald Trump is the most conflict prone, chaotic and unpredictable president in US history. In part this is to do with personality, but more important are the forces that created his presidency. I have in this column rejected the superficial liberal pastime of mocking, ridiculing and deriding Trump sans political and class analysis. Liberals will not venture into deeper analysis for fear of coming face to face with uncomfortable notions like systemic failure, capitalist recession and millions of whites living just above or below the poverty line. Less educated, alienated, fearful of modernism, angry, anti-immigrant, nativist and mostly white, this is a social phenomenon, a personification of system failure. The “swamp” and nose in the air elites dare not acknowledge its existence as a social category since it denotes the failure of liberal capitalism. The ideologically shrivelled analytical tools of the liberals avoid such analysis – vide the vapidity of its “learned” journals. Liberals abhor the Trump-base but evade the intellectual effort to comprehend it.

That an alliance of business interests, liberal intellectuals, Democrats and the “deep state” wants to be rid of Trump before he causes irreparable damage or drags America into debilitating local or global disruption or war, is palpable. In 1962 the deep-state hand in glove with political reaction removed Kennedy. Different conditions, different alliances! Liberalism, modern America, CNN and the New York Times cheer James Comey, Robert Muller and generals resigning from the White House staff. The FBI, the Justice Department, the CIA, the military and a good half of Congress loath Trump and despise his base. Impeachment is possible; his past is so besmirched, something damning could come to light. He may have a nervous breakdown, or perhaps issued with a departure ticket, as was Kennedy for different reasons, to go make his peace with his creator. I don’t rule out anything.

The American state is strong and stable; it can ride through either eventuality with a few burnings and lootings. Nor will such an outcome disrupt the global apple-cart. Nostradamus, take it easy, no end of the world in sight on this score! That’s why it’s last on my list. Or am I underrating the rage in the base if its populist edition of Il Duce is dispatched to that other place?

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Latest comments

  • 0

    The point SEVEN of your point seven list is just to add spices to the curry. don’t worry, USA had promised after the vietnam war never to involve in a straight confronatation with powerful country. Things happens right now displays the differences of brain between Homo Sapiens Nearnthalensis and the sapiens. So, don’t worry. Asians are more advanced.

  • 0

    I will address point 5.

    I assume you are domiciled in America in Florida still?

    LOOK at how DPRK and ROK(North and South Korea respectively) are thawing relations. They say(and we have to take that communist family thug dictator’s words as genuine for now) they want to end the war that never really saw peace but is in a state of cessation of hostilities.

    A lot of people are crediting Trump for being unpredictable and his bluster prompted the piss poor North Korean(communist dictatorship which cannot feed its own people) to reach out. THAT meeting at Panmonjum was historical. A lot needs to be done yet. But it was Trump and his entreaties along with threats of further tariffs with China which prompted China also to enforce the embargo imposed by the UNSC.

    China has a lot MORE TO LOSE with a tariff war. Also neither China nor North Korea can hope to come out victorious in a war with USA. USA has the world’s best military so far ahead than even Russia cannot match their firepower.

    Als,o if DPRK wants a nuclear war, it will be obliterated in a few seconds and become burnt firewood. Trump was the FIRST president to tell them that. A discredited socialist living in the west with a pompous attitude thinking you know all the facts.

    TRUMP has to be credited for forcing DPRK to come to talks. We can for the first time hope for de-nuclearization followed by open trade and eventually maybe reunification from the last vestige of the cold war tussles around the world. Communists always lost those tussles in the long run. Even Vietnam promotes CAPITALISM.

    TRUMP DESERVES THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE IF He can really bring peace to the Korean peninsula. Obama got it for reading speeches and running Libya and Egypt(a dictatorship). Your intellectual arrogance is so typical of academics.

    • 1

      I am domiciled in Dehiwala, Sri Lanka.
      At the moment, for four more weeks in Hong Kong.
      Florida? Never been there, ever!

      Giving Trump credit for Kim-Moon rapprochement is like giving bacteria the credit for the invention of antibiotics. His crazy threats may have pushed Moon (more than Kim I suspect) to expedite talks because the consequences of Trumps lunacy would hurt S Korea more than anyone else

      • 1

        Kumar David.
        If President Trump by a miracle were to bring world peace eliminate hunger and lift every one out of poverty eradicate every sickness tomorrow you and your hypocritical leftist pseudo liberals will start shouting form the roof tops and complain there is too much peace, not enough hungry people and not enough poor.
        and hospitals are empty.
        Its ok keep on attacking President Trump, just the thought of you and your leftist “Intellectuals Yet Idiots” mates waking up every morning to a new day and having to accept Trump is still in the White House world war has not started must be a pain in the behind.
        Must be like watching the movie Ground Hog Day but it is real.
        Just be aware agonizing it may be Donald Trump may yet run for second term and very well win so make sure to buy a good comfortable whoopee cushion now because pain may last for long while.
        Not been too callas when I think of leftist hypocrites suffering bring bit of a smile.

        • 1

          Leonard, very interesting and how true.

          Look at what Kim Jong Fat Porky dictator said today.

          “There is no reason for us to possess nuclear weapons … if mutual trust with the United States is built through frequent meetings from now on, and an end to the war and non-aggression are promised.”

          The reason he said it is TRUMP. TRUMP , if he pulls this off should be recommended for the Nobel Peace Prize. These arrogant intellectuals from the leftist spectrum are clueless about pragmatic steps. If US and China and monitor DPRK’s weapons dismantling, then there will finally be peace. The state of war between the 2 Koreas have not ended. There was a cessation of hostilities. And what is wrong with keeping out ILLEGAL immigrants? Sri Lanka has over 25,000 mostly Dravida Tamil INDIAN ILLEGALS back in Ceylon too. They are coolies, porters, labourers etc. Sri Lanka should get a sea-wall like the Trump wall. Trump is right on that too. Every nation has a RIGHT to protect borders. Do you think Kumaran David will shout about the Indian wall of death ? no

      • 0

        I think Ranil did the same Ranil is using Anti-muslims violence to cover up his problems. Otherwise, KIM has genuine reasons to do what he does.

      • 0

        Kumar David.
        All your suspicious thought must derived from mind set of leftist hatred for Trump that made fools of experts who predict that he will never win so you are in good company. May be if you haven’t already read you need to read ” Intellectual Yet Idiot” by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.
        I must add “Warning may realy harmful to your intellectual Ego”
        Florida is good fit for you Gov Brown loves illegal immigrants specially the criminal kind.

      • 0

        Very interesting point Kumar.

  • 0

    Here is the USTR.GOV data for you

    U.S. goods and services trade with China totaled an estimated $648.5 billion in 2016. Exports were $169.8 billion; imports were $478.8 billion. The U.S. goods and services trade deficit with China was $385 billion in 2016.

    China is currently our largest goods trading partner with $578.2 billion in total (two way) goods trade during 2016. Goods exports totaled $115.6 billion; goods imports totaled $462.6 billion.

    The U.S. goods trade deficit with China was $347.0 billion in 2016.

    Trade in services with China (exports and imports) totaled an estimated $70.3 billion in 2016. Services exports were $54.2 billion; services imports were $16.1 billion. The U.S. services trade surplus with China was $38.0 billion in 2016. US has a SURPLUS in the Services sector.

    According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. exports of goods and services to China supported an estimated 911,000 jobs in 2015 (latest data available) (601,000 supported by goods exports and 309,000 supported by services exports).

  • 0

    Chinese are unclean.
    They eat dogs
    They have the most polluted dirtiest Capital City in the World
    They have too many people
    They steal our intellectual property every day
    They have inferior weapons
    They run massage parlours that offer sex in America
    Their restaurants in USA are dirty; they have very poor hygiene.
    Everyone loves to bash USA but they all want to come here
    Indians and Chinese form the LARGEST group of legal migrants
    Both of them do not respect American culture and our values.
    They live in their shithole neighbourhoods. They do not mix outside work
    The Chinese immigrants barely speak English. We no speak Ingrish.
    ILLEGALS also many thousands from India and China. All dirty.
    We love Trump

  • 0

    In a time like this why gold price is not going up, as it usually has been doing?

  • 0

    Academics are stubborn. They insist the facts are wrong when the FACTS do not fit their hypotheses. Intelligent people have the balls to say the Facts are right; we are wrong and my argument was wrong.
    People like KD, Jehan P refuse to admit that facts on the ground are not in keeping with their intellectual pie in the sky theories. Here is a FACT. It is indeed Trump and China who need to be given credit. ROK and Moon are keen on ending the state of war. But it is Kim who got armed with Nuclear weapons who is changing. READ what he said here.

    “There is no reason for us to possess nuclear weapons … if mutual trust with the United States is built through frequent meetings from now on, and an end to the war and non-aggression are promised.”

    So if the US does not do what it did to Libya under Hillary Aappa Anti and Hussein Obama, there might actually be real peace in the Korean peninsula. I think Trump will not force N.K to reform or become democratic. So if the dictatorship of a communist fat porky pig thug,(grandpa-pa-grandson inheritance)allows IAEA and US inspectors as they have no said so(CLOSING the testing site in MAY too to honour Trump) then that will mean China will benefit and Japan and ROK can breathe sigh of relief. Barack Hussein did NOT deserve a fucking Nobel Peace Prize. He did nothing. IF Trump gets this done, then he must be considered for one justifiably so like in 1994 when Arafat-Rabin-Peres were awarded it.

    Your arrogant liberal horseshit academia ignores ground realities. This is the same sort of cocky people who said “there is no military solution to Sri Lanka’s war”. Jehan/Sara/You all belonged to the same school of thought. No more TIGER fascist racists who killed muslims and chased out my family from Jaffna in 24 hours. Fuck your Tamil Tigers. Trump Trump Trump

  • 0

    Prof Kumar David referring to Trump says ~ “…………go make his peace with his creator. I don’t rule out anything………..”.
    Just when the hell did this ‘CREATOR’ thingy come? As Confucius say “GGGGGGo past use-by date it come”.
    Kumar ~ “……….Nostradamus, take it easy, no end of the world in sight on this score!”.
    Nostradamus predicted “There will be no end to corruption/nepotism in SL”. Confucius agree.

  • 0

    Porf. David,

    My belief is that when it comes to Nuclear disarmament is that those who currently posses Nuclear arms such as the US, Russia, China and Israel (mainly) will not give up arms until there is a Nuclear fallout that will affect every nation. Humans are too stupid species to give up on something so risky. Humans are also the only species stupid enough to disrespect the Earth, the place where they live.

    Hiroshima and Nagasaki did not have an impact big enough to affect everyone. The Human race needs more than that to get something into their tiny brains.

  • 0

    Trump is a desperate man unable to deal with cooler counterparts.
    The US has for long been slow to learn, but I hope will learn sooner than later.

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