World View: Pakistan Taliban Crosses a Red Line with Mass Slaughter of Army Children

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Germany’s anti-Islam demonstrations become too large to ignore
  • Pakistan Taliban crosses a red line with mass slaughter of army children
  • Pakistan and Australia move from denial to shock
  • Russia’s crisis deepens as ruble falls another 11%

Germany’s anti-Islam demonstrations become too large to ignore

PEGIDA demonstrators in Dresden on Monday (Reuters)
PEGIDA demonstrators in Dresden on Monday (Reuters)

For each Monday in the past nine weeks, supporters of the explicitly anti-Islam far right Pegida movement have been protesting in cities like Dresden and Düsseldorf. (The phrase “far right” has different meanings in Europe and America.) The demonstrations have been growing in size from a few dozen to start to the 10,000 who demonstrated in Dresden. Germany’s government ignored them at first, but the rapid growth of the demonstrations is forcing it to deal with them. Germany’s justice minister Heiko Maas said that the protests were “an embarrassment for Germany” and that the country was experiencing a new “level of escalation of agitation against immigrants and refugees.”

Pegida is an acronym for “Patriotische Europaeer Gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes,” which translates to “Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamification of the West.” Much of the discontent comes from the fact that Germany has accepted a record number of refugees this year, especially from Syria, and has also witnessed the rise of Salafist movements in German cities with heavy populations of immigrants.

Many of the complaints are about the economy. One elderly man shouted: “I’m a pensioner. I only get a small pension but I have to pay for all these people (asylum seekers). No-one asked me!” However, a woman said, “I am not right wing, I’m not a Nazi. I am just worried for my country, for my granddaughter.” Deutsche Welle and BBC and Getty and Pegida facebook page

Pakistan Taliban crosses a red line with mass slaughter of army children

Terrorists from Tehrik-e-Taliban (TTP, Pakistan Taliban) attacked an army school in Peshawar in northwest Pakistan on Tuesday, killing 141 people, 132 of them schoolchildren, most of them children of soldiers. The attack, which some argue is the worst in years, is being described as revenge for the army’s operations against the TTP in Pakistan’s tribal area.

During the last few years, the Taliban have splintered into three branches — the Afghanistan Taliban, targeting US and Nato forces, the Pakistan Taliban, and the Punjabi Taliban, attacking Indian targets. According to analyst reports I’ve heard, the army has good relations the first and third of these, but has lost control of the Pakistani Taliban.

Many Pakistani people believe that the Taliban are good people, defending their religion, and some even believe that the terrorist attacks are being perpetrated by Iran or the U.S. to discredit the Taliban. Tuesday’s attack is thought to be so horrific that it will wash away these attitudes and change minds once and for all. Others point to the bombing of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad in 2008 that took place just a couple of blocks from the government buildings. That was also a horrific bombing, and it was thought that this attack would change mind permanently, but instead, old attitudes took hold as soon as the initial shock wore off.

Prime minister Nawaz Sharif ran his election campaign with a promise to end TTP attacks by negotiating with the TTP. As we’ve described many times, these negotiations always were a farce, and were treated with contempt by the TTP. Tuesday’s attack should end those attempts once and for all though, although it has been noted that when Sharif condemned Tuesday’s attack, he referred only to “terrorists,” and not to the Taliban.

Pakistan’s major opposition politician is Imran Khan, the former cricket superstar turned anti-American politician. He’s been even more supportive of the Taliban, calling for an end to American drone strikes against the Taliban, and calling for the resignation of Nawaz Sharif for allowing the drone strikes.

At the very least, this attack has infuriated the army, who are now promising revenge against the perpetrators. Daily Times (Pakistan) and Dawn (Pakistan)

Pakistan and Australia move from denial to shock

One of the characteristics of a generational Crisis era is the enormous state of denial about many things. Just one illustration of this in the US was the real estate bubble of the mid-2000s decade. Even though I wrote repeatedly about this bubble, starting in 2004, mainstream economists were ridiculously clueless about this, and didn’t even begin to talk about the bubble until around 2009, when the real estate crisis was in full flower.

Pakistan’s population have clearly been in denial about the danger of the Taliban, despite major terrorist attacks every few days. Some of the attacks have targeted Sufi or Shia Muslims, but most of them have been political, attacking the government or the army by massacring civilians. Tuesday’s senseless attack on hundreds of schoolchildren in Peshawar has transformed the denial to shock.

The terrorist attack in Sydney on Monday and Tuesday has had a similar effect on the people of Australia. Australia is a peaceful, open, generous, multi-cultured and inclusive country with strict gun control laws, so Australia’s sense of denial took the form of believing that a terror attack would not occur there.

Now, Australians are waking up to the fact that dozens of young Australian men have gone to Syria to become jihadists.

The biggest political battle will probably be over gun control. After a 1996 gun massacre, strict gun control laws were imposed, and over a million guns were destroyed in two buybacks since then. Now it’s being revealed that the number of guns is back to pre-1996 levels, thanks mainly to gun smuggling operations.

When a country’s population moves from denial to shock during a generational Crisis era, then results can be very dangerous, because nationalist forces may be triggered that leads to further shocks, and then to a war. India Times and Daily Telegraph (Sydney) and Sydney Morning Herald

Russia’s crisis deepens as ruble falls another 11%

Russia’s desperate move yesterday, raising interest rates to 17%, seems to have backfired. The value of the ruble plunged another 11% against the dollar on Tuesday. It’s now fallen 20% this week, and fallen more than 50% since the beginning of the year.

It may be that the currency crisis is now being driven by sheer panic, as Russia has several hundred billion dollars saved up in reserves. According to one analyst I heard, Russia could get revenge against the west by bailing out Russian government debts denominated in dollars, but let the corporate debts denominated in dollars simply default. Since most of the holders of Russian dollar-denominated debt are European banks and American investors, Russia could make the currency crisis the West’s problem. Reuters

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Germany, Heiko Maas, PEGIDA, Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamification of the West, Pakistan, Peshawar, Tehrik-e-Taliban, TTP, Pakistan Taliban, Nawaz Sharif, Imran Khan, Australia, Russia, ruble
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