on: October 15, 2014, 02:16:37 PM
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by Crafty_Dog
Constitutional Convention? Caveat Emptor
The Law of Unintended Consequences
By Mark Alexander • October 15, 2014
"The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their Constitutions of Government. But the Constitution, which at any time exists, ‘till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole People, is sacredly obligatory upon all." --George Washington (1796)
The "law of unintended consequences" is an idiomatic admonition regarding the manipulation of complex systems. The notion of unintentional consequence has its origin with 18th-century political economist Adam Smith and the Scottish Enlightenment.
In the present, it is used more in rebuttal to the hubristic notion that humans are so brilliant and possess sufficient discernment about complex systems that we can predict outcomes with great accuracy. It is similar to Murphy's Law -- "Anything that can go wrong will go wrong" -- except it is not asserting the absolute.
20th-century sociologist Robert Merton noted three primary factors contributing to unanticipated consequences: First, incomplete analysis because it is impossible to anticipate all variables; second, errors in analysis of what is known about the problem; third, immediate interests overriding long-term interests.
Our nation is besieged by unintended consequences. Most notably, the 2008 election of a charismatic "community organizer" peddling a "hope and change" mantra. It is now painfully clear, after the re-election of Barack Obama, that his mantra has resulted in a plague of pessimism and an atrocious fundamental transformation of America.
But not all unanticipated consequences are bad.
Shortly after Obama's first election, a grassroots groundswell of concern over our government's abject disregard for the Constitution emerged. That concern galvanized in the Tea Party Movement, a broad coalition of Americans from all walks of life with a common goal of restoring Constitutional Rule of Law and the Essential Liberty enshrined therein.
Fortunately, this movement is more ideological than political. While the media labels some constitutional constructionists as "Tea Party candidates," the underlying movement defies traditional political party labels -- and this constitutional coalition is alive and well.
Beyond efforts to restore the plain language authority of our Constitution by way of the ballot box, several compelling arguments for constitutional amendments have emerged in an effort to circumvent restoration by way of the bullet box.
There are two proscriptions for amending our Constitution. These are specified in Article V as ratified.
"The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate."
In other words, to amend our Constitution, two-thirds of the House and Senate must adopt an amendment or two-thirds of state legislatures (34) must request Congress convene an Article V Convention to consider an amendment. Then, that amendment must be affirmed by either three-fourths (38) of state legislatures or state conventions.
Since our Constitution was ratified and became operational on March 4, 1789, there have been approximately 11,600 amendment proposals, of which 33 were adopted by Congress and sent to the states for ratification. Of those, 26 amendments were ratified by state legislatures and one, the 21st Amendment, which repealed the 18th Amendment (prohibition on alcohol), was ratified by state conventions.
The most significant call on Congress to convene an Article V Convention in recent history was Ronald Reagan's proposal for a Balanced Budget Amendment (as currently required by every state constitution but Vermont). On March 26, 2014, Michigan's legislature became the 22nd applying to Congress for an Article V convention seeking a Balanced Budget Amendment.
What makes the Michigan request notable is that there already are 12 applications from other states for conventions to consider a Balanced Budget Amendment. All were rescinded -- most because it was thought that the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act negated the need for a Balanced Budget Amendment. Of course, Congress created as many bypasses around Gramm-Rudman as they have around the Constitution.
But there is a debate as to whether a state may rescind its Article V application. Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) has called on Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to seek a legal opinion on whether that threshold has been met: "With the decision by Michigan lawmakers, it is important that the House -- and those of us who support a Balanced Budget Amendment -- determine whether the necessary number of states have acted and what the appropriate role of Congress should be in this case."
Indeed, that answer is being sought by quite a few constitutional scholars who are advocates of Article V Conventions, including Lawrence Lessig, Sanford Levinson, Larry Sabato, Jonathan Turley and Mark Levin.
Levin, who distributes our Essential Liberty Guides at conservative conferences, has generated substantial interest and support for 11 amendments he outlined in his book, "The Liberty Amendments: Restoring the American Republic." He is calling for a national dialogue on these amendments, with the ultimate objective of stopping unmitigated and unlawful violations of our Constitution by the central government.
Conservative political analyst George Will is an advocate of another measure, The Compact for America, a Goldwater Institute initiative which, according to Will, "would use the Constitution’s Article V to move the nation back toward the limited government the Constitution’s Framers thought their document guaranteed."
The Compact is a renewed federal budget containment measure, and as Will concludes, "In the 85th and final of the Federalist Papers written to persuade Americans wary of centralized power to ratify the Constitution, Alexander Hamilton said: 'We may safely rely on the disposition of the state legislatures to erect barriers against the encroachments of the national authority.' States would be the prime movers of, and would be substantially empowered by, the institute’s amendment-by-compact plan."
While we await a legal determination from Boehner on the question of whether the 34-state threshold for an Article V Convention has been met, there are two important considerations about which approach should be taken to enact amendments.
First, it is not clear whether the scope of amendments to be considered by a convention, once convened, can be limited. Could those advocating statist tyranny commandeer a convention?
Recall, if you will, that on February 21, 1787, when the Congress of the Confederation endorsed a measure to revise the Articles of Confederation, it summoned state delegates "for the sole and express purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation" in ways that, when approved by Congress and the states, would "render the federal constitution adequate to the exigencies of government and the preservation of the Union." Indeed, Article 13 of the Articles of Confederation set forth that it was "perpetual" until any alteration was "agreed to in a Congress of the United States, and afterwards confirmed by the legislatures of every State."
But the delegates to the original Constitutional Convention determined that the Articles were not workable and proposed an entirely new Constitution, in effect discarding the Articles of Confederation without objection from the states. Fortunately, our Framers' objective was to codify Liberty as "endowed by our creator," and as specified in our Declaration of Independence.
They believed that all who followed in the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government, and those duly authorized thereunder, would abide by their sacred oaths to Support and Defend" our Constitution.
According to Alexander Hamilton, "[T]he present Constitution is the standard to which we are to cling. Under its banners, bona fide must we combat our political foes -- rejecting all changes but through the channel itself provides for amendments."
If that legal and moral obligation had been compliantly observed, this column would not even be necessary.
So what is the risk that such lawlessness would hijack an Article V Convention, especially since, as James Madison questioned in his notes on Article V ambiguities, "How was a Convention to be formed? By what rule decide? What the force of its acts?" None of those questions are answered in the Constitution.
Federalist Society constitutional expert Michael Stokes Paulsen, Distinguished University Chair and Professor at St. Thomas School of Law, argues that such a convention would have the "power to propose anything it sees fit."
My colleague, Heritage Foundation constitutional scholar Matt Spaulding, notes, "The largest question is whether an amendments convention can be limited to specific amendments or even topics. The pro-convention argument assumes that the power to limit the convention is inherent in the power to call the convention in the first place. I’m not so sure that follows: The text says that upon application of the states Congress 'shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments,' not for confirming a particular amendment already written, approved, and proposed by state legislatures (which would effectively turn the convention for proposing amendments into a ratifying convention). Indeed, it is not at all clear as a matter of constitutional construction (and doubtful in principle) that the power of two-thirds of the states to issue applications for a convention restricts, supersedes, or overrides the power of all the states assembled in that convention to propose amendments to the Constitution."
Thus, given the persuasive power of the Leftmedia and Democratic Party conglomerate, their ability to advance populist measures for amendment consideration could spell the end of what remains of our Constitution.
But the second consideration about which of the two approaches should be taken to enact amendments is the overarching question of whether either approach will matter in the end. For as John Adams noted, "We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion... Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."
If the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the central government do not abide by existing constitutional constraints, why would anyone believe they would abide by additional constraints in the future?
In either case, caveat emptor.
(Note: In an upcoming column, I will reintroduce a third measure, the establishment of a Constitutional Confederation of the States, to restore constitutional integrity, which affirms the Constitution as ratified, rather than seeks to amend it further.)
Pro Deo et Constitutione -- Libertas aut Mors
Semper Fortis Vigilate Paratus et Fidelis
on: October 15, 2014, 01:53:38 PM
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by Crafty_Dog
Cheap Oil Pops the Green Policy Bubble
Since the 1970s, Western politicians keep betting on $10 gasoline that never comes.
Holman W. Jenkins, Jr.
Updated Oct. 14, 2014 7:24 p.m. ET
Tesla, an electric-car company on which the political class has showered subsidies, rolled out its newest model last week, complete with high-tech safety features like lane-departure warning, blindspot monitoring, collision avoidance and self-parking. Tesla’s stock promptly dropped 8%, though probably not because these mundane features long have been available in other luxury models.
At $2.99, the price to which gasoline had fallen at some California stations last week, electric cars becoming a mass-market taste and not just an item for wealthy hobbyists recedes from probability. If Democrats especially start to find it politically no longer saleable to subsidize a toy for the rich, the company may be in real trouble.
Since World War I, the retail price of gasoline has fluctuated in a band between $2 and $4 (using 2006 dollars as a benchmark). Since the 1970s, though, politicians have repeatedly wedded themselves to policies premised on the idea that oil prices can only go up, up, up, in prelude to oil running out altogether.
A Renault Twizy electric car charging at a car-sharing station in Rome. ENLARGE
A Renault Twizy electric car charging at a car-sharing station in Rome. AFP/Getty Images
In fact, Tesla illustrates a theme from a column here back in 2008, when everyone from President George Bush to Nancy Pelosi to freshman Sen. Barack Obama was in a fever to simulate a deeper understanding of our Middle East entanglements by calling for new auto gas-mileage mandates.
These mandates, we pointed out at the time, would only divert tens of billions of auto-industry investment dollars to relatively mingy and uneconomic improvements in fuel mileage that car buyers don’t highly value. The real opportunity, meanwhile, was for revolutionary safety technologies like those Tesla is now belatedly introducing, which would necessarily be delayed by Washington’s misallocation of industry resources.
All through the 2000s this column applauded rising oil prices to ration existing supplies and stimulate new supplies to accommodate the growth of China and India. What goes up, though, must come down when investment produces a glut, when demand can’t keep pace with supply—and when major producers keep goosing production even at a falling price in order to keep producing revenues for domestic governments.
That’s what’s happening now. Saudi Arabia and Iran are slashing prices in pursuit of market share in suddenly slower-growing Asian markets. Vladimir Putin , whose budget goes red at an oil price below $110 (oil hit $84.43 Tuesday in London), is being pressed by his No. 1 crony, Igor Sechin of Rosneft, for $40 billion from the Kremlin’s welfare reserve to boost the Russian oil company’s output at a time when sanctions are cutting it off from Western capital and knowhow.
The price of fossil energy may well be depressed for a while given a strong dollar and the Western world’s governance-cum-growth failures. If so, undermined will be a lot of fantasy policies. Germany and Britain already rue their expensive commitments to renewables, which have caused local manufacturers to pull up stakes for North America and its cheap shale gas.
The Obama administration is not peopled exclusively by naïfs. An official once anonymously acknowledged that its bailout of the U.S. auto industry was certain at some point to run smack into its extreme fuel-mileage mandates (54.5 miles per gallon by 2025) that require the auto industry to invest in fuel-saving technology of little value to consumers.
We can be pretty sure, though, this non-naïf was not President Obama himself, who has acted consistently as if $10 gasoline must appear ahistorically and mystically to redeem his policies. In a major speech in 2011, he declared as a “fact” that oil prices must rise, demand must exceed supply, and America cannot depend on a “resource that will eventually run out.”
He obviously has not taken an inventory of the planet’s vast hydrocarbon stores, including methane hydrates.
What will happen next is easy to predict. Ex-GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz , seeing the world through reality glasses, has long called for a European-style gas tax to make Americans want the cars Washington is forcing GM to build.
Green energy promoter Vinod Khosla in the past lobbied a receptive Nancy Pelosi for a floating oil tax to “correct” periodic low prices, which he attributed to an oil-industry conspiracy.
Tesla’s Elon Musk will be heard again (as he was a few years ago) calling for a gas tax to turn a $2 wholesale commodity into $10 gasoline at the pump.
The ethanol industry, just now opening its first “cellulosic” ethanol plants, which require $3-plus gas to be profitable, will present its list of demands backed by the clout of corn-state senators.
Their rationale will be global warming. But U.S. cars and light trucks account for 3% of global emissions, a share rapidly vanishing to nothingness as India and China develop. The real motive will be bailing out the joint public-private (i.e., crony) investment in policies that don’t work in a world of falling gas prices.
on: October 15, 2014, 01:23:55 PM
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by Crafty_Dog
Responding to a Chronic Terrorist Threat
Thursday, October 9, 2014 - 03:00 Print Text Size
By Scott Stewart
Last Thursday I had the opportunity to speak at a Risk Management Society meeting in Cleveland, Ohio. During my presentation, I shared some of the points I made in last week's Security Weekly -- namely, that the jihadist movement, which includes groups such as the Islamic State and al Qaeda, is resilient and can recover from losses if allowed to. There is no military solution to the jihadist movement: It is an ideological problem and must be addressed on the ideological battlefield, and thus jihadists are a persistent threat.
In response to these points, an audience member asked me if I thought the United States was wasting its time and treasure in Iraq and Syria (and elsewhere) by going after jihadist groups. After answering the question in person, I decided it would make a good follow-on topic for this week's Security Weekly.
First, it is important to understand that, historically, the success al Qaeda has had in executing large attacks is not due to the professionalism of its operatives and attack planners. Indeed, as I have previously noted, in addition to foiled attacks such as Operation Bojinka and the Millennium Bomb Plot, al Qaeda operatives were also nearly detected because of sloppy tradecraft and operational security mistakes in successful attacks such as the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the 1998 East African embassy bombings, the 2000 attack on the USS Cole and even the 9/11 attacks.
These mistakes weren't trivial. In the 1993 World Trade Center case, one of the two operational commanders whom al Qaeda sent to New York to assist in the plot, Ahmed Ajaj, was caught entering John F. Kennedy International Airport with a Swedish passport that had its photo replaced in a terribly obvious and amateurish manner. Authorities also found a suitcase full of bombmaking manuals with Ajaj. His partner, Abdel Basit (widely known as Ramzi Yousef), called Ajaj while he was in jail looking to recover the bombmaking instructions. Before the East Africa embassy bombings, authorities had identified the al Qaeda cell responsible and detected their sloppy preoperational surveillance of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi. The leader of the group, Wadih el-Hage, was asked to leave Kenya, and he returned to his home in Dallas, where the group continued with its plans for attack in Africa. The perpetrators of the USS Cole bombing attempted to attack the USS The Sullivans in January 2000, but their boat was overloaded with explosives and foundered. Finally, among other mistakes the 9/11 attackers committed, Mohamed Atta had been cited for driving without a valid license and was the subject of an arrest warrant for failing to appear in court on those charges.
Al Qaeda was able to succeed in these attacks because terrorism had become a third-tier priority for the U.S. government in the 1990s, and very few resources were dedicated to fighting terrorism. Even fewer resources were dedicated specifically to the jihadist threat. Thus, significant leads were not followed in each of these cases.
The success of U.S. counterterrorism programs in the post 9/11 era cannot be attributed to the creation of the bloated and redundant bureaucracies of the Department of Homeland Security or the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. In fact, any achievements have come despite these organizations and the inefficiencies they have created. The real change is that terrorism is now identified as a significant threat, and countering the terrorist threat has been made the primary mission of every CIA station, FBI field office and NSA listening post on Earth. Indeed, all the tools of national counterterrorism power -- intelligence, law enforcement, foreign policy, economics and the military -- are now heavily focused on the counterterrorism mission.
Though the jihadist threat has persisted since 9/11, the intense pressure applied to jihadists by the combined force of myriad counterterrorism tools has made it difficult for the militants to project their terrorist power into the United States and Europe. These counterterrorism tools will not eradicate jihadism, but the threat jihadists pose regionally and transnationally can be contained and abated with their use. As I mentioned last week, jihadist operatives who possess advanced terrorist tradecraft are hard to replace, and arresting or killing such individuals hampers the ability of jihadist groups to project power regionally and transnationally. Ignoring the jihadist threat and allowing it to again become a third-tier issue will permit the jihadists to operate with relative impunity, as they did in the 1990s.
Ideological Change Is the Key
Another reason to maintain physical pressure on jihadist groups such as al Qaeda and the Islamic State is that pressure works to counter the groups' claims of divine blessing. That al Qaeda leaders claim to trust in God for protection and then hide as far underground as possible has caused many jihadists to criticize the group. Furthermore, though many jihadists treated the killing of Osama bin Laden as a joyous martyrdom, it caused other jihadists to question why the leader of al Qaeda was living in a comfortable home with his family while others were fighting on the front lines in his name.
When the Islamic State made impressive gains in Iraq and Syria in June, it boasted that it was being blessed by God, was therefore invincible and was going to continue until it conquered the world. It is quite common to hear such statements in Islamic State propaganda, including the following comments made in a video after the massacre of a group of Syrian soldiers who were taken captive after the siege of the Syrian 17th Division base near Raqqa on July 26: "We are your brothers, the soldiers of the Islamic State. God has favored us with His grace and victory by conquering the 17th Division -- a victory and favor through God. We seek refuge in God from our might and power. We seek refuge in God from our weapons and our readiness."
Such claims, when backed by dramatic battlefield successes, can have a discernible impact on many radical Muslims, who begin to wonder if the Islamic State is really becoming as inexorable as it claims to be. This illusion of divine support and invincibility has greatly assisted the group in its efforts to recruit local and foreign fighters, to raise funds and to garner support from regional allies.
Conversely, the blunting of the group's offensive on the battlefield has tempered the Islamic State's boasting. Though reports that U.S. and coalition aircraft missed key targets such as the Islamic State headquarters may reflect that the United States was a bit behind the intelligence curve, they also demonstrate that the Islamic State was abandoning the facilities, fearful of airstrikes. The sight of Islamic State fighters reacting fearfully to coalition aircraft will help slow recruitment efforts and should cause already skeptical jihadists to think twice before joining the group or swearing allegiance to it.
Doubts stemming from battlefield losses about whether God is blessing the Islamic State should also bolster efforts against the group on an ideological front. For example, on Sept. 19, a group of 126 Islamic scholars from across the globe published an open letter to the Islamic State and its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The scholars used the letter to address what they consider to be 24 points of error in the theology espoused by the Islamic State. These errors encompass a number of issues, including the nature of the caliphate; the authority to declare jihad; the practice of takfir, or proclaiming another Muslim to be a nonbeliever; the killing of innocents; the mutilation of corpses; and the taking of slaves.
The letter ends with a plea for al-Baghdadi and his followers: "Reconsider all your actions; desist from them; repent from them; cease harming others and return to the religion of mercy." It is unlikely that many of the hardcore jihadists will do as requested, but as these theological arguments are circulated and discussed, they will help undercut the ideological base of the jihadists and make it harder for them to convince impressionable people to join their cause. The effects of these theological critiques will not just be confined to the Islamic State; they will apply equally to al Qaeda and other groups that hold similar doctrines and commit similar acts.
Moreover, mainstream Muslim theologians have not been the only ones critical of the group. Jihadist ideologues such as Abu Mohammed al-Maqdisi and Abu Qatada have also been critical of the Islamic State's activities and pronouncements.
Fighting the ideological war will undoubtedly be a long process. In the interim, the United States and its allies will have to continue applying pressure to groups such as the Islamic State and al Qaeda in an effort to contain them and limit the chronic threat they pose.
Read more: Responding to a Chronic Terrorist Threat | Stratfor
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on: October 15, 2014, 01:18:09 PM
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by Crafty_Dog
Wednesday, October 8, 2014 - 03:02 Print Text Size
Global Affairs with Robert D. Kaplan
By Robert D. Kaplan
The words anarchy and chaos are everywhere in the news. Iraq has collapsed. Syria collapsed some time ago, as did Libya and Yemen -- even as Yemen now threatens to enter deeper depths of implosion with al-Houthi insurgents having entered and virtually surrounded the capital of Sanaa. Civil war in Lebanon periodically threatens to reignite. Egypt has required a rebirth of authoritarianism to keep order there. Afghanistan and Pakistan are never far from the abyss. Ukraine is a weak state threatened with further Russian military aggression. A wall of disease has been erected in West Africa in states that collapsed into anarchy in the late 1990s and have been limping along ever since. Nigeria faces an Islamic insurgency that is, in turn, indicative of regional tensions between Muslims in the north of the country and Christians in the south. South Sudan, midwifed into existence by Western elites, has been in a circumstance of tribal war. The Central African Republic, beset by religious violence that has killed thousands, can in no sense be called a functioning state. The same can be said of Somalia, though the worst of the threat posed by Islamic extremists there may be past. New shortages of rationed food items in Venezuela may mean more upheaval there. And there are other places around the globe -- called states in the polite language of diplomats and development experts -- that travelers' accounts away from the capital cities reveal are no such thing.
I worried aloud about such a world in a lengthy 1994 essay in The Atlantic Monthly, "The Coming Anarchy." The core of my argument was that with European empires gone, not every place in the world will necessarily have the capability to maintain functioning institutions in far-flung countrysides, and that absolute rises in population, ethnic and sectarian divides, and especially environmental degradation (i.e., water shortages) will only make such places harder to govern. My argument only seemed hopeless if you believed in the first place that elites could engineer reality from above. Of course elites can affect destiny at pivotal moments, but the actual character of large geographical swathes of the earth will only be determined by the masses living there.
But what if such chaos as we have seen in small- and some medium-sized states over time happens in larger states? What if, for example, the two dominant territorial forces on the Eurasian mainland, Russia and China, prove deeper into the 21st century to be ungovernable by centralized means? I am not predicting this. I personally do not think this will happen. But I believe it is a worthwhile thought experiment to conduct and entertain. For even the partial unraveling of Russia or China would have dramatic geopolitical effects far beyond their borders. Europe, after all, has throughout its history had its fate substantially determined by eruptions from the east -- in Russia. Southeast Asia, the Korean Peninsula and even the island nation of Japan have often had their fates substantially determined by changes in China. If we do not think the unthinkable, therefore, we are being irresponsible.
The fear of chaos has always been central to Russian history. Russia's landmass encompasses half the longitudes of the earth, with the result that central control must be oppressive merely to be effective. Adding to this sense of oppression is the perennial fear of invasion. Indeed, Russia is a land power with few natural borders in any direction. Oppressive, autocratic regimes have a tendency to foster weak institutions, since rule in such circumstances is personal rather than bureaucratic. Of course, the stories of Russia's impenetrable and inefficient bureaucracy are legion, but this reality has only caused its rulers -- czars and commissars both -- to be even more oppressive in their attempts to overcome it. To wit, the way in which President Vladimir Putin rules Russia is merely a culmination of how Russia has been ruled for more than a millennium. Putin rules in Politburo style, with a somewhat opaque circle of advisers who control all the major levers of power, military and civilian. Natural resource revenues, especially those of oil and natural gas, become tools of central authority in this case.
Russia is not a world of stable, impersonal and rules-based institutions but a world of rank intimidation and of whom you know. If this is the case -- if Putin has created a rule by a camarilla, which by its mere existence weakens institutional checks and balances -- what will happen to Russia after he leaves or is forced from office? Voices in the Western media wax hopeful that Putin can be toppled if he miscalculates on his military intervention in Ukraine. But were that to occur, it is more likely that Russia itself could weaken or fall into chaos, or that an even more brutal dictator would emerge to forestall such chaos. And were there to be a crisis in central authority in Moscow, expect far-flung regions such as Siberia and the Russian Far East to gain more autonomy, formally or informally. In other words, the partial breakup of Russia may be more likely than the emergence of Western democracy in Russia. The years of former President Boris Yeltsin's incompetent rule in the 1990s should be a warning of what to expect from Russian democracy.
The fear of chaos has often been prevalent throughout history in China. For thousands of years, one Chinese dynasty has followed another. But not every dynasty has been able to control all or most of Chinese territory, and between the fall of one dynasty and the rise of another there has periodically been chaos. The Chinese Communist Party is just the latest Chinese dynasty, which itself emerged following a long period of war and chaos. Now this latest dynasty faces a tumultuous economic transition from an Industrial Age, smokestack economy driven by low wages and a massive volume of exports to a postindustrial, cleaner and high-tech economy featuring higher wages and a somewhat lower volume of exports. Chinese President Xi Jinping is using an anti-corruption campaign as a sort of great purge to re-centralize the Party for these economic rigors ahead. It is highly unclear whether he can succeed. Meanwhile, democratic tendencies stir, as we have seen in Hong Kong.
If Xi only partially succeeds, let alone fails, there is the possibility of sustained ethnic unrest at increasing levels among the Muslim Turkic Uighurs in western China and the Tibetans in southwestern China. So do not necessarily expect China to be as stable over the next 30 years as it has been for the last 30.
In sum, just because autocracy has failed does not mean that democracy can work. And just because the tumultuous, dramatic weakening of central control in big states has not happened yet does not mean it is implausible.
Read more: Super Chaos? | Stratfor
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