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zoomzoom
Golden Oldie
Golden Oldie


Joined: Aug 29, 2012
Posts: 1818


PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2018 5:06 pm 
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Someone said I had been mentioned, so thought I would take a look.
Not so much lost interest X, just that I think Mr. Seedy is the possibly the only person on the planet who has the time and inclination to read to read your exceedingly long posts. Wink
This is by no means a criticism, just that I think most people who pop in here just like to have a quick read as they have other things to do.
  
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Xanthos
In The Prime
In The Prime


Joined: Sep 15, 2016
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Location: UK p/t + Bg p/t; Bg f/t in 09/17

PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2018 9:26 pm 
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zoomzoom wrote:
Someone said I had been mentioned, so thought I would take a look.
Not so much lost interest X, just that I think Mr. Seedy is the possibly the only person on the planet who has the time and inclination to read to read your exceedingly long posts. Wink
This is by no means a criticism, just that I think most people who pop in here just like to have a quick read as they have other things to do.

Fret not ZZ, I'm well aware of the literary diet of most forum members, so it's just about different keystrokes for different folks Wink

I suspect the odd few mystery shoppers may indulge me and sample my meandering bath night contributions for their insomnia, but there are possibly a few browsers who'd never consider joining the InBg forum and probably won't buy their homework essays from decent websites either Rolling Eyes
  
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Seedy
Golden Oldie
Golden Oldie


Joined: Feb 21, 2012
Posts: 6355

Location: Sofia, Dupnitsa, Lincs

PostPosted: Sun Apr 22, 2018 6:26 am 
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Xanthos wrote:

Fret not ZZ, I'm well aware of the literary diet of most forum members, so it's just about different keystrokes for different folks Wink

I suspect the odd few mystery shoppers may indulge me and sample my meandering bath night contributions for their insomnia, but there are possibly a few browsers who'd never consider joining the InBg forum and probably won't buy their homework essays from decent websites either Rolling Eyes


Apropos of which (and also of Krysia's response in the Banitsa thread), I was moved recently to look in on some of the other BG sites. It seems to me that most/all are similarly moribund and have even been deserted by the tin-foil-hatters and "Tories Are To Blame For Everything*" brigade.

Could it be that - despite a failing NHS, outrageous municipal taxes and rising prices - the siren song of the New Jerusalem (and the concomitant bennies) proved too strong to resist? Wink

*Not to say that they are entirely wrong in that assertion...
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Xanthos
In The Prime
In The Prime


Joined: Sep 15, 2016
Posts: 370

Location: UK p/t + Bg p/t; Bg f/t in 09/17

PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2018 12:14 am 
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The reference to a few of the Balkan country pawns in my last thread contribution was linked to the current disinformation protocols being perpetuated online, and rehearsed in various news platforms by Russia ('RT' et al). The UK government report of a 4000% increase in social media posts by fake Ruskie botnets pushing out the Chemical Weapons denial theme post Salisbury and Syria was an interesting statistical analysis. It's harder to believe the gall of some of the Russian 'diplomats' in recent days; they really can do BS in the artistic shades of Jackson Pollock's 'Going West'!!

Although my previous work was based in Wilton on the outskirts of the city, our current home is about 30 miles from Salisbury, but regularly attend hospital appointments there, so we occasionally browse the city's shops and restaurants. Having personally run businesses in the past where sourcing financially viable liability insurance cover for the adventure industry was a serious challenge to profitability, I certainly do feel for those retailers in the vicinity of the 10+ CW zones identified. Being unable to place their business insurance risks is catastrophic to most SMEs, and will inevitably create a medium term brake on economic development both in and around the city.

Together with the multimillion pound cleanup scheduled to last potentially for years rather than just months it's a sad deal, despite the survival of all the victims thus far. The public meetings held in recent days were uncomfortable for many in the audience and on the local government stage too. Unlikely to be considered an act of terrorism by any insurance company, but maybe there's new business scope for the reinsurance industry for state sponsored crimes with WMDs. That'll please my brother!
https://tinyurl.com/ycdzutq3

Meanwhile the top Kremlin story being floated - "it was an inside job by MI5 to cover the embarrassment of BREXIT" - love it ... love it, must have taken an Enid Blyton fan to dream that one up, but crack on comrades, give credit where it's due! On the other side of the pond, even Fakebook got a makeover or muck-over in Congress, whichever you prefer, given the brainiac billionaire in the hot seat, in light of the Cambridge Analytica débâcle!!

Back to the Balkans, where everything has changed ... , but only to the same old themes - certainly the history over the last half millennium has shown a series of interventions formerly by Russia, subsequently the Soviets before the Novo Russians or 'Putineers' conducted their current information / psychological operations in the region. As to Bulgaria, two Serbian-Bulgarian treaties were concluded simultaneously in 1904; more commonly referred to as - 'The Secret-Serbian-Bulgarian Treaty of Alliance of 1904'.

In the same period Britain and France were putting together their entente cordiale in 1904 that rested on a trade-off with regard to the Suez Canal, whilst Britain and Russia reduced irritants in their relations over the Ottoman Empire and reached an accord on Iran, Afghanistan, and Tibet in 1907. The latter are all relevant to the present day where the warped psyche of the older generations often ingrain the attitudes of future ones.

The attitudinal processes of identity-building at micro (personal, familial, tribal, ethnical etc.) and at macro (religious, national, regional, and global) level is a key consideration amongst social psychology researchers and other social scientists. The rapid expansion of European colonial empires, which coincided with the periods industrial revolution towards the end of the 19th Century, although that imperialism was equally a new and old phenomenon. As I've previously written about the traces of imperial power and/or behaviour went back over the millennia, to the ages of Ancient Egyptian or Roman Empires.

Obviously the previous five centuries ..., well almost (1396-1878), into the late 19th Century had seen the Ottoman Empire as the key territorially expanded entity with influence over the Balkans and the Middle East. Importantly this geographic sensation of 'state capture' was felt across the region rather than being specific to Bulgaria, but its emergence from under that yoke of occupation was somewhat different, because of the choices it subsequently made.

Whilst Western European nations led most of the imperialistic expansionism across the globe by the 19th Century, nationalistic feelings were also aroused around the world, inspired by or opposed to, that colonial imperialism. For countries like Bulgaria the Ottoman yoke was removed, but the Russian canopy was also laid over it at the same time. The imperial domination of the Ottoman Empire over Bulgaria resulted in an unprecedented surge of national identity quest and formation. Language, common origin and shared history were considered the basis for the 'new' national revival in Bulgaria, but there is commonality with these elements of that concept of identity formation in other cases around the world from different era.

Various social scientist have considered the emergence of a nation in terms of it being interconnected with the ethnic and religious belongings, which represent the preconditions for nation-formation. The quest for national identity also considers the spread of vernacular language, as one of the strongest ties binding all into one nation, and also related to the vital roles of ethnic ties and ethnic communities, that provide a basis for the emergence and persistence of a nation. It may be viewed in terms of shared history, common ancestry, and close ties, whilst there is also an importance of historical clusters or heritages, of myths, memories, values and symbols for cultural community formation. This particular phenomenon is described as ‘myth-symbol complexes’ in the identification and persistence of 'ethnies', whilst key researchers agree that myths of common origin are central to self-determination and symbols, because they shape common emotions and these ensure cultural differentiation.
https://nationalismstudies.wordpress.com/2012/10/15/anthony-d-smith/

One overriding emotion of the Bulgarian people in my experience is their antagonism and fear of the former 'enslaver' returning from the South, which in the extreme can present as racial and religious intolerance (a mild description), but is routinely considered negatively when referenced to the need for youthful immigration to energise the economy. The roots and evolution of 'nationalism' in both Central and SE Europe may be traced to the early 19th Century, when it emerged as the driving force in the national revolutionary struggles for liberation from imperial domination and the formation of independent nation-states. However, national consciousness and nationalism emerged prior to the formation of nation-states within the region, that were subjugated under imperial rule.

For Bulgarians and their Ottoman ruler their relationship entered into the 'nationalistic' phase after the Vienna Congress from 1815. At that time the idea of nation-state became predominant in the diplomacy and political discourse across Europe. Meanwhile, the Ottoman Empire committed to reforms and two important documents were issued in 1839. These were the 'Imperial Edict of Gülhane' (Hatt-i Sharif of Gülhane) or Imperial Edict of Reorganization (Tanzimât Fermânı) and later the Hatti-humayun in 1856. Both documents were influenced by the Russian-Ottoman wars from the first half of the 19th Century and the gradual expansion of autonomy of Christian minorities within the Ottoman realm.

Through these reforms the Ottoman Empire was acknowledging the existence of other 'nations' for the first time, beyond its own 'dynastic nation' one and importantly the religious rights of their populations. However, the reforms undertaken by the Ottomans failed to decrease national feelings and the ongoing process of nation identity-formation among Greeks, Serbians or Bulgarians amongst others. Bulgarian nationalism was ideological as it creates new ideology against the century-old slavery, whilst drawing significantly from mythology of the ancient glory rather than the political objective of a purely European nationalism.

The inclusion and spread of spoken vernacular language in literature as instrument of national identity-building and tool in the hands of nationalism have been studied thoroughly in past. It's considered that the transition in literature by replacing the 'high' or 'sacred' language with the spoken language is a central reason for the spread of new ideas from the late 16th Century onwards. Clearly one tool that facilitated the dissemination was technological advancement with Gutenberg’s printing machine.

That modern era in Bulgarian literature appeared in the 'History of the Slavo-Bulgarians' (Istorija Slavjanobolgasrskaja) a manuscript produced by a monk named Paisii Hilendarski in 1762. His book was aimed at the revival of Bulgarian national consciousness and self-esteem. He praised culture, language and the 'greatness' of the medieval states, which were in opposition to more predominant and 'fashionable' Greek influences over Bulgarian society, especially the intelligentsia and notability. His writing book also had purpose in reviving the Bulgarian language, culture, national and religious values.

The first printed book in Bulgaria doesn't appear in the country until 1806 and is entitled the 'Sunday Book' (Kyrīakōdromion or Nedelnik)' and was written by Sofroniĭ Vrachanski, the Bishop of Vratsa (1739-1813). Whilst this was the first book to use the modern Bulgarian language, it still followed traditional elements of both Modern Greek and Old Russian religious literature. Consisting of 96 sermons, it was intended as a religious guide, because the Bible had never been translated from Old Bulgarian. Whilst it was purely for church usage it introduced a Bulgarian literature tradition to new forms of modernity through use of spoken vernacular Bulgarian language. The significant differences from the Old Bulgarian (Church-Slavonic) language, made it more accessible.

I've covered the issue of Bulgarian ancestry previously in the thread, and it's a common denominator in the construction of identity i.e. familial, tribal, national or regional. Unlike biological phylogenies, however, where a true pattern of vertical descent exists, these cultural phylogenies, even if predominantly vertical, invariably contain instances of populations interbreeding and the horizontal transmission of cultural elements.
https://www.britannica.com/science/phylogeny

Ultimately, the myth of common origin or 'phylogeny' as it applies to identity appears in almost every movement for national liberation. This shared historical experience in the crafting and exploration of the feelings of national belonging. It's critical and importantly, this myth of common origin, or phylogeny, is regarded as the most persistent in the nation consciousness.

The Bulgarian myth of common origin was widely used by the their liberation movement, mostly inspired by Paisii Hilendarski’s book. Their glorious past is represented as unchanged characteristics of the Bulgarian kingdoms (tsardoms) regardless of the ethnicity of the ruling family i.e. Proto-Bulgarian or Slavonic. This 'common origin' is their cultural phylogeny, defined as the cultural path that most ancestors or majority membership of that culture had followed, and is translated into the popular understanding of 'common blood', but this blood differs from others by cultural characteristics. Actually, the Slavonic was assigned to cultural heritage/identity and Bulgarian (Proto-Bulgarian) – to legitimacy of power. In the modern era these two aspects are gathered together to build the Bulgarian identity.

The role of religion in identity-building is subject of research in different scientific fields, but I don't intend to expand on that here. However, there are different models explaining the linkage between religion and identity, whilst religion plays a significant role in conflict resolution, as well as in the process of identity construction through healing dysfunction within society. The functionalist approach agrees that there is a variety of levels integrated through the religious affiliation and there is a dialectical connection between these levels. The psychoanalytic approach stresses on the individual level and the link that the respective person has to religion community and to national community. In this regard, it indicates the 'imagined' idea that an individual has for their own belonging.

There is an obvious link between the predominant religion i.e. Orthodox Christianity, and identity formation in Bulgaria, without this religion being exclusive, since all Bulgarians confessing other religions are also Bulgarians. The Orthodox religion binds the ethnicity by introducing the Slavonic heritage into the Bulgarian nation. Once again, the tradition of the inseparability of the Bulgarian Church from the process of national enlightenment and desire for independence appears in 1762 with Paisii Hilendarski. It can be said that Orthodox Christianity became the identifier of Bulgarian ethnic and national identity, while the Ottoman Turks were identified with Islam.

Meanwhile the treaties settled between the Kingdom of Serbia and the Principality of Bulgaria contained political, military and economic provisions that were aimed not only against the Ottoman Empire (a common rival of both countries), but also against the Austro-Hungarian empire. A significant feature of the treaties was their obvious pro-Russian orientation, shaped in provisions like unification of the telegraphic systems of both countries with that of Russia, as well as the requirement for Russian arbitration between Bulgaria and Serbia if they were not able to reach agreement about the partition of the European possessions of the Ottoman Empire by themselves.

Putting this in perspective, some of the provisions the Serbian-Bulgarian Treaties of 1904 resembled in many ways the Treaty of 1912 between the same Balkan countries, which subsequently became the political backbone at the instigation of the Balkan League. The creation of the latter, on the other hand, was a significant step toward the breakdown of equilibrium in Eastern Europe, eventually leading to the outbreak of the First Balkan War and the well known wider consequences.

Seen in this light, the significance of the Serbian-Bulgarian Treaties of 1904 could also be defined as evidence that the Russian policy of creating alliances between the small Balkan Slav states, was aimed not just against the Ottoman Empire (the 'weak neighbour' gambit), but also against Austria-Hungary. In this way, they encircled the latter, and can be dated from before the Bosnian Crisis (1908), as opposed to prevailing attitudes within existing literature, that the Bosnian Crisis was itself the turning point of Russian foreign policy in this direction.

A contemporary irony exists here, in that steady expansion of NATO post WW2 and in the decades post Cold War, especially the recent acceleration of membership by former Soviet bloc countries, has seen the Balkan tables (and Baltic ones) reversed on the shrunken Russian state. This modern strategic 'containment' was probably foolhardy in concept, because it left no 'buffer zone' after 50 years of Cold War and a bitter ending for the Kremlin (especially its IBS effect on Colonel Putin), but it's almost complete. This is a key reason for Russia's present antics, just as the Chinese military giant stirs, and global threat levels are increased artificially in order for domestic compliance in Mother Russia.

Meanwhile this reactive faux heightening of tensions by the Kremlin with its Putinesque puppeteers, whilst orchestrating the greatest heist in history and laughing all the way to several banks (they own) as they steal a country (at least its assets) literally from under the noses of the Russian people, with a liberal scattering of the rewards to the Putineers! Putin is constantly externalising this nationalist ideal through a firesale of Russia, encouraging the Russian people and their nation state, to embrace the 'persecuted victim' pysche constantly threatened by the West.

The sophistication of cyber weapons has definitely leapt forward in recent decades and Russia has found it a significant tool to exploit its unconventional warfare. It hasn't lost its grasp of the TV stage for certain former Soviet bloc audiences either, where it remains a critical messaging media. Bulgaria's older heads are still turned by this, not so subtle influence, whilst there are increasingly a lot more 'grey hairs' in the population than any other demographic. The 'influence' hooks are in deep and media effect is long term, at least as a generational theme.

As to unconventional warfare, indeed the consequence of Russia being slapped down in the UNSC and irritated by the coalition attacks on CW assets in Syria, has provoked another flare of cyber attacks in recent days. It's certain that other news channels and cultural programming on TV will be in rhythm with the Kremlin's mood music and it will likely be viewed by some segments of the Bulgarian population!

Scrolling back on the time bar, and from analysis of military and other clauses of the Serbian-Bulgarian Treaties of 1904, their secret character, the role of Bulgarian statesmen, politicians and diplomats (including the Bulgarian Prince Ferdinand I), it's a wonder their negotiations were ever possible. In 1904 Bulgaria was ruled by the People's Liberal Party, a party with a pro-Austrian orientation and this orientation was clearly in opposition to a close rapprochement with the new pro-Russian.

However, it was an internationally isolated Serbian regime, established through a very bloody coup d'etat in 1903. Bulgarian and Serbian foreign policies were subjected to those of Russia even at that time, when, because of its disastrous engagement in the Far East, the Russian Empire was seemingly abandoning its active policy in the Balkans. They were eventually thwarted by the Japanese at the Battle of Tsushima, having sought to establish a warm water port in China at the outset of the Russo-Japanese war.
https://tinyurl.com/yb39hrkc

Of course, post WW2 the Soviets were content to irritate the hell out of the Japanese by their occupation of the Kuril Islands and now the Putineers are quite content to continue scratching that particular scab!
https://tinyurl.com/ycwlshd8
Interestingly Putin was toying with Shinzo Abe on the same subject exactly 5 years ago to the day over the same issue!
https://tinyurl.com/y8o9vxn4
Abe has territorial itches being scratched at both ends of his country with China's cat playing with Japan's mouse in the Senkaku islands. Additionally, both former WW2 enemy adversaries are equally unhappy about recent changes made to his country's use of its military forces!
https://tinyurl.com/y7ppmtnw

Earlier in the 20th Century, whilst Russia's Pacific fleet was getting a battering, the Balkan treaty initiated by Prince Ferdinand was conducted by means of secret diplomacy with selected Bulgarian and Serbian politicians, diplomats and military men with firm Pan-Slavic affiliations. This pro-Russian Serbian-Bulgarian rapprochement allowed the conclusion of the secret treaties of 1904, but it eventually proved disastrous for the European peace. A lasting peace is inevitably a harder status to achieve internally and between nation states compared to war or strife, especially when the shape and form of those nations have been created by third parties for their own ends. One could describe half of the current MENA nations in that way and perhaps the evidence of the numerous civil wars and externally provoked unrest, is proof of concept.

This has relevance for Bulgaria in its journey to the present day, but I hope readers will give me leave to pursue a little continental drift at this point, in order to emphasise a more volatile but equally belligerent group of neighbours. Readers will no doubt have heard on various news reports of the routine flares up between India and Pakistan concerning the Kashmir region.

On India's 70th Independence Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave a lengthy speech, and signalled a hardening stance against Pakistan. He also raised the issue of Balochistan and Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK). Modi's speech indicated to Islamabad that India too is ready to target the integrity and unity of Pakistan. You could call it 'Back to Bactria' in the footsteps of Alexander, as I've written about before, on the origins of the proto Bulgarians in the distant Hindu Kush.

We've also touched on geopolitical 'buffer zones' previously in the context of Afghanistan's role with the diversions of the North West Frontier's 'great game' in Kipling's era, especially the issues concerning 'old' Russia and the British struggles of the 18th and 19th Centuries. Following these, according to the Durand Line agreement, Afghanistan gave up a few territories like Swat, Chitral and Chageh, but gained others like Nuristan and Asmar. Afghanistan had trouble accepting the division of states especially since the separation of Balochistan robbed the country of its direct passage to the sea. The latter has similarities to the situation Bulgaria found itself in post WW1, but we'll return to that later.

After the founding of Pakistan in 1947, Afghanistan demanded that the Pashtuns living in the newly-created Pakistan should be given the choice to cross over the Durand Line and live in Afghanistan. This demand was not met by Britain or Pakistan and soon the Afghan government began to ignore the Durand Line, asserting claim over various parts near the border. It was followed by various instances of attacks and illegal immigration, which further soured the relations of the two nations. The animosity was so apparent that in 1948, Afghanistan was the only nation which opposed Pakistan's membership of the United Nations.

During the 1950s and 1960s, Afghanistan drew considerable support from the United States, but after Pakistan struck an arms deal with the superpower, Kabul realised that the balance of power had tipped in the favour of Islamabad. Following suit, Afghanistan also approached the US for an arms deal. Looking to contain the Soviet Union, Washington imposed conditions that Kabul should improve its relations with Pakistan. However Kabul declined and turned to Russia to empower their military and we all know where that ended. Security experts also believe that during this time, Afghanistan's dependence on Russia grew both economically and in military terms, which lead to the eventual fall-out.

Soon after coming to power in 2014, President Ashraf Ghani realised that he needed to mend fences with Pakistan. The rise of Taliban and the power it wields, is of great concern for Afghanistan and as pointed out in an earlier thread thread the Taliban has been steadily gaining more territories ever since the United States and NATO vacated Afghanistan in December 2014, despite Trump's recent 'U turn' to increase troop numbers once more. The usual Spring onslaught has ensured government forces and citizens of Afghanistan have come under constant attack, despite some epic and noteworthy actions by the Afghan forces with operational control of their own COIN missions.

Many speculate the present day Taliban too, is preparing for a time when it's ready for a political settlement, but when that day comes, it'll only enter negotiations from a position of power and will not tolerate NATO or any other military brinkmanship. This presumption also has a strong hold over the psyche of the Afghan people; in the present day, whilst Pakistan continues to rely on the United States and China for the security of its territories.

Hence the complexity of the Afghanistan-Pakistan-India relationships having direct consequence on the United States-Russia-China relationship. It cannot be ignored that the situation in MENA and the Levant, together with the South China Sea tensions, often play out through these other geopolitical pawns of the 'great game'. It is much like Indo-China / Vietnam in the 40's, 50's, 60's and 70's to different ends and the Saudi vs Iranian proxy tussles in Yemen today, just as Dhofar was a smaller Anglo-Soviet hotspot in the 70's.

Perhaps Modi's passing reference to Balochistan in his Independence Day speech was meant as a signal of support to Afganistan, even though it might not amount to much. Maybe, India is finally waking up to the tit-for-tat strategy that Pakistan has assumed so long and maybe, to reclaim their lost land, Afghanistan will find a friend in India. In response, the Afghan government had declared that it recognised neither the 'imaginary Durand Line' nor any similar line, announcing that all previous Durand Line accords were void. His announcement has had no tangible effect as there's never been a move in the United Nations to enforce such a declaration due to both nations being constantly busy in wars with their other parties.
http://tinyurl.com/opoeb3

I won't delve further into the mechanics of WW1 or its impact on Bulgaria, beyond the persistent state theme of taking the 'wrong turn' that has ensured Bulgarians could never easily remount their horses of Parnid fame or recover their Bulgar pride. The loss of territory in past centuries has adversely impacted on the Bulgarian psyche at crucial times, especially for past generations with territories like Macedonia being 'lost', and in particular the frequently shifting borderlines to the North and South of Thrace. Some of those lost territories are located in modern Macedonia, Kosovo and Montenegro that I mentioned in my last thread contribution, and for a variety of reasons.
https://tinyurl.com/kn22ok4

When we consider the events of 1904/5, just as the Russians were thwarted in their pursuit of a warm weather sea port in Port Arthur, the present day admission of Montenegro with its 2000 strong Defence Force to NATO makes more sense, since it excludes the Adriatic and Mediterranean coastline from the bow thrusters of the Russian fleet.

Macedonia -
https://tinyurl.com/ybx4onar
Montenegro -
https://tinyurl.com/ydg7enxq
https://tinyurl.com/y8xghl5w
https://tinyurl.com/ya2pftyh
Kosovo -
https://tinyurl.com/ybuvba8u

The permanent warm water port that Russia wants to retain in Syria, whilst seemingly content to witness more civil war and even less diplomatic jaw (unless he can exploit it), it ensures that vital anchorage or perhaps a Ruskie BBQ beach for celebrating the arms sales, whichever suits best! The concept of the 'weak neighbour' prevails here, as long as it doesn't cost too many Roubles and the Russian body count remains manageable and of course its mostly Russian defence contractors at the bloody end.

However, it must be quite infuriating for Putin to know that most all of the major Greek ports across the Mediterranean pond are controlled by Xi's mob! It's part of China's OBOR strategy of course, but may also be considered the 'belt, braces and garters' gameplan! An interesting, slow boiling frog equivalent to world domination within a couple of decades.
https://tinyurl.com/yddmx52w

Whilst Putin favours kinetic asymmetry (Syria, Chechnya) and unconventional warfare (Crimea, Ukraine, South Ossetia), Xi Jinping has chosen the painstakingly slower, but (so far) predominantly non kinetic approach as China's military is remodelled (especially their carrier fleet/s). The latest ZTE headaches may also give Xi some sanctions food for thought, but probably only a glitch in the Silk Road (or Steel Garrotte) gradually ensnaring the region.
https://tinyurl.com/yax46yl5

Every strategic asset is being put in place for control, whilst the sleeping giant awoke decades ago and is constantly adapting different tools to the circumstances. Soft loans to Africa tying them into long term debt leveraged on mineral and energy resources, hard cash to Southern Europe together with infrastructure investment and trade, illegal fishing in multiply registered vessels across the world's oceans and belligerent military advances in the South China Sea. All complimented by skilfully applied card sharp techniques at the UNSC.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-41654346
https://tinyurl.com/yddmx52w

We've drifted off piste rather than off topic although we're still in the Balkans, because the end of 1944 brought drastic political and social changes to Bulgaria, whilst civil war still raged to the south in Greece. In WW2 Bulgaria was an ally in the Rome-Berlin-Tokyo Axis, which many war memorials still attest to, around the country. The 'Hitleristic' coalition, including Bulgaria, was defeated, whilst Bg's fascist monarchy rule was brought down. Bulgaria was occupied by Soviet forces and a coalition government comprising democratic and anti-fascist parties was established. For the second time in Bulgarian history, political liberation came from outside; the first time with Russian forces at the helm, and the second – with the Soviets in front.

During WW2, whilst Bulgaria operated as a fascist ally of the Axis Powers, there wasn't a sufficiently powerful resistance operating like those in Yugoslavia or Greece. It can be said, for a short period at least, that Bulgaria managed to achieve some of its national goals – the annexation of former Bulgarian territories seized by Serbia, Greece and Romania following previous conflicts. The return of those Bulgarian territories was seen by many Bulgarians as a victory of historical justice. This justice, however, once again did not result from home grown efforts, but from the will of a powerful ally – Germany!

It did nothing to contribute to the development of political consciousness, moreover the purges in previous periods amongst the intelligentsia and of politically astute figures remains a poor diet for the growth of any democracy or consistency for political development. On the contrary, the 'Bai Ganyo' model I referred to in my last submission - thrived, because victory was not dependent on personal actions, but on the choice of the right powerful ally. Naturally, the powerful ally had a price and that price was most often giving up independent thought, i.e. to one extent or another, 'slavery' (of a kind) or slavishness as an endemic community model.

Many subsequently became 'the disappeared', whilst in practice, the only party that remained was the Communist one. Opposition was eliminated both in the political and physical sense, whilst private property, the basis of individual independence and hence, independent political thought, became state property. Looking around the geographical arena, perhaps this did not come as quite such a shock to Bulgarians who were now split between several countries (after previous borders were redrawn) and with less than a generation of political freedom experienced by most/all of its citizens.

In 1948 approximately 80% of the population drew their living from the soil, but by 1988 less than 20% of the labour force was engaged in agriculture, with the rest concentrated in industry and the service sector. On reflection, it's perhaps the ancient and historic strength of the country's agricultural practices, a legacy of those rich fertile Thracian fields that are now being exploited by foreign entities. However, it's the populations supplying the rural labour force that's in decline and how this can be changed is a crucial question for the government and individual Bulgarians need to take a brave step.

By the 1960s Bulgaria had abandoned the isolationism that characterised the Chervenkov period, whilst remaining steadfast in its commitments to the Warsaw Pact and Comecon, Bulgaria improved relations with its Balkan neighbours, particularly Greece, and expanded its economic and cultural relations with most Western states. Relations with Yugoslavia remained strained, however, over the persistence of the Macedonian question.

Reflecting back on Bulgaria's pathway through this period, after becoming prime minister in 1962, Todor Zhivkov continued to hold the positions of head of state and head of party until 1989. An attempted putsch led by General Ivan Todorov-Gorunya in 1965 was easily put down, and Zhivkov consistently managed to purge or undercut party leaders who were regarded as potential rivals. During the era of Zhivkov’s ascendancy, Bulgaria modelled its domestic policies on those of the Soviet Union, with long-term treaties linking Bulgaria’s economic development to the Soviets’.

Bulgaria gave the highest priority to scientific and technological advancement and the development of trade skills appropriate to an industrial state. Unfortunately, it also managed to poison large tracts of its landscape and contaminate both urban and rural waterways with poor environmental management. I've previously written about some of this from heavy metal deposits in sedimentary deposits to widespread use of carcinogenic building materials such as blue asbestos.
https://tinyurl.com/y9utfzux

Given the contemporary issues of state sponsored assassinations utilising CWs (NK's 'Kimmy's facescrub' aside), the fate of the dashing and charismatic Bulgarian writer Georgi Markov was similar to some of Putin's former associates. Markov's bohemian zeal gained him considerable acclaim with his writing and was admitted into Zhivkov's inner circle, sitting in on important state meetings until tensions started to rise and his work was disfavoured by Zhivkov who tolerated no dissent among writers and artists.

Having left the country to settle in the UK after his fall from Bulgarian grace and despite his personal safety becoming more tenuous, Markov's playwriting and other literary activities, together with his role on the BBC World Service produced scathing comments about his former Bulgarian PM. Eventually it got under Zhivkov's skin, much like the poison pellet containing Ricin that was subcutaneously injected into Markov's leg at the infamous Waterloo Bridge umbrella incident, by the Bulgarian Secret Service. The poignant feature of this state sponsored murder was Zhivkov celebrating his birthday on that day!

A small world, influenced by smaller minds, but big egos ensure there's even less space for humanity to thrive. So what's really changed in 40 years, apart from the world's population rapidly enveloping the planet in plastic a sure way to eradicate the terrestrial and marine food chains? Whilst the daily slaughter of the planet's allegedly highest functioning mammal, is on a massive scale across most continents, and appears self sustaining.

Even before the time of Zhivkov, Bulgarian villagers were forced to enter into cooperatives, similar to the Soviet kolhozi, in which they owned no share, nor had a say in their management. Education was dogmatised in line with the principles of Marxism and Leninism, whilst Soviet history prevailed. Indeed, it would be exceedingly difficult to find any sustained period of Bg history where its educational literature had actually been self determined, and all contacts with Western educational establishments were terminated during the Cold War.

Overseas education or post-education study abroad in Western countries became impossible. Meanwhile, Bulgaria became economically bound with the other Socialist countries and part of the Warsaw Treaty in military terms. A popular Moscow proverb about the former Soviet satellite roughly translated to - “As a hen is not a bird, so Bulgaria is not abroad"!

Thus half a century of this new Bulgarian history reproduced a model of the 'Turkish slavery', at least within the mindset of the proletariat – with immediate elimination of all attempts at independent political thought. From a personal perspective having spent significant time on military exercises at the height the Cold War towards the end of this Soviet era; later as a civilian I led a number of adventure trips and collaborative education projects with young people in neighbouring Yugoslavia (as it still was) and discovered the Serb die was cast in most areas, but there was certainly a breath of fresh developmental air blowing across that region.

In 1979 Bulgaria proposed a treaty with Yugoslavia that would guarantee the inviolability of the borders established after WW2; this proposal was rejected, however, due to Bulgaria’s refusal to admit the existence of a distinct Macedonian nationality. From the Bulgarian point of view at the time, such an admission would both fly in the face of historical reality and potentially legitimise Yugoslav claims on the Pirin region.

During the 1970s concern had also developed over the low birth rate of the ethnic Bulgarian population, and policies were adopted to encourage larger families, but without apparent effect. In late 1984 the government began a major campaign to 'Bulgarize' or assimilate, the country’s ethnic Turks. Measures aimed at the Turkish population, estimated to number approximately 800K included the discontinuation of Turkish-language publications and radio broadcasts and the requirement that Turks adopt Bulgarian names.

The ethnic Turkish population, however, resisted assimilation, and clashes with the authorities continued. In spite of official harassment, independent human rights groups were formed in defence of the Turks. In 1989, when the government of Turkey offered to accept refugees from Bulgaria, more than 300K ethnic Turks fled or were forcibly driven from the country by the communist authorities. The birthrate peaked in 1989 and is now in freefall, together with the youth exodus.

The era of reforms launched by Mikhail Gorbachev in the Soviet Union also had a major impact on Bulgaria, inspiring greater demands for openness and democratisation. The increase in Bulgarian dissidents, a declining economic situation, and internal party rivalries led Zhivkov’s colleagues to force his resignation on 10 November 1989. He was later tried, sentenced, and imprisoned for embezzlement. Unfortunately, the Gorbachev's nutcracker 1989 unleashed far more extreme events in the region through the civil wars that followed in a similar manner to the Arab Spring. However, ethnic divisions and reprisals in Bosnia were more akin to Sicilian feuds with a Stalinist makeover involving inhuman barbarity and a kinetic ferocity unrivalled outside Cambodia's Khmer Rouge genocide of the Pol Pot era.

The situation for Bulgaria also changed drastically in 1989 when the single-party rule was removed from power, and some of the old political parties were re-established, and many new ones were founded. Complete freedom of speech and press was accorded and the first democratic elections took place soon afterwards. Meanwhile, under the last Communist government, nearly 5% of the Bulgarian population left the country, as a result of the forced ethnic assimilation policy for Bulgaria's ethnic Turkish population. Soon after this, the communist ideal collapsed and a new, non-communist constitution was adopted, whilst a free market economy was established. Inevitably as occurred in Russia and some other former Soviet bloc countries, former members of the security services found new ways to play old games across the business, criminal and political fraternities.

Of course, I'm glossing over these quite traumatic political events for a country whose population rarely had to think (politically) or act (economically) for itself in over half a century. The action, cynically called 'Restoration of the Names' or 'Revival Process', did not contribute to the end of Communism in Bulgaria. It was more like the agonistic symptom of a rotten regime resorting to the shock of populist nationalism to defibrillate its dying heart. Shades of Nazism, Zionism, and militant Islamism. The Bulgarian parliament took 22 years to adopt a declaration apologising to its own citizens for the earlier suffering inflicted on them.

Having later become a member of NATO and subsequently joined the EU, compliance with those systems may be viewed as prerequisites for the modern political thought active in traditionally democratic states, which have now 'allegedly' been present in Bulgaria for 20+ years. The heritage of that 'Turkish slavery' and the lingering anti-Islamic and more often openly racist views persists in the political psyche of the Bulgarian people to the present day. Once again the political views are expressed through individual passiveness, the wish for “somebody else to do the work”, in order that things change ideally for the better, but hopeful that they'll not worsen!

In Bulgaria there are still no political parties in the traditional sense of the word – political organisations that endeavour to protect the interests of different socio-economic classes rather than just exploit them. Whilst I don't profess this as a forensic political analysis, in essence the Bulgarian Socialist Party carries out a left-wing policy protecting the poor, but in reality, when elected, its responsive to large businesses.

Meanwhile opposition parties, representative of right-wing and nationalist agendas, do not really encourage the development of businesses when they come to power, instead they embrace populism and work for the interests of the circles that finance them. In this way, voters cannot easily see their place as a force to determine who their Member of Parliament will be, or the core of the government cabinet even to the present day. A major principle, just as in the era of Turkish rule - “nothing depends on me”!

Whilst elections are held, people rarely vote on the basis of political policies or programmes, they tend instead to adopt the 'lesser evil' principle. Apart from municipal elections where personalities reign supreme, the national Bulgarian vote is entirely negative. In the first post 1989 democratic elections, the majority vote railed against Communism. Subsequently disappointed, the majority then voted against the democrats; disappointed once more, and just so they didn't vote for ex-communists or the democrats, the majority voted for the former tzar, Simeon II. His election clearly demonstrated the psyche persisting from the period of Turkish rule. The 'tzar' was to play the role of Krali Marko and save the Bulgarian people single-handedly. It's indicative that when he won the elections, he didn't have a political party behind him, and not to mention a political programme.

The Bulgarian voter casts his/her vote for their 'saviour'. Disappointed by the tzar too, at recent elections people voted for a leader who in their eyes impersonates 'the strong hand'. He also won the elections without an actual political party or a detailed political program. Thus, he is also the individual saviour – yet another Krali Marko who'll punish the 'bad guys'. The constant implementation of the 'lesser evil' principle, practised for five centuries during the Turkish rule, makes it very hard to imagine where and how the political 'good' will come from. The Bulgarian voter has not realised yet, that in order to enjoy an actual improvement in his own style of living, s/he needs to make investments by being active.

As long as the average Bulgarian sits and waits for liberation to come from above, they'll always be threatened by yet another encounter with evil, and especially as the country's social demography is radically effected through a combination of the declining birthrates (apart from Roma communities), the ongoing flight of human capital amongst Bulgarian youth and the professional exodus. The latter may not be as prevalent as when it reportedly peaked in the late 2000s, but the intention of health professionals to migrate remains very common.

It follows that the education professions, both in schools, vocational colleges and universities prefer to seek their tenure abroad, which allows more academic scope and significantly improved remuneration. Having spent some time at Southampton University both as a teacher educator and heath educator, I'm aware that the ability to pursue research and access academic teaching resources for your students and provide suitable placements for their professional practice is vital to the quality of the outcome.

Witnessing the steady demise of Bulgaria's academic structure through the brain drain is a tragedy in the making for the country's future. The decline of a robust academic research base and fragmentation of a stable education framework is an important feature to ensure development of future generations. Bulgaria has also seen industrial action launched by teaching professionals on a few occasions over pay and conditions, which were only partially addressed, but the former export value of Bulgarian academic institution qualifications has also declined in recent years and competition has heated up abroad for Bg expatriates in academia and the teaching profession.

Whether that's the endemic legacy of corruption or the persistent bureaucratic encumbrances, which act like a Toluene infused mesh enveloping effective business development. Just one example of this was brought home to me when I set up our family company in Bg in 2014. The process to obtain the 'Company Stamp' or seal was quite bizarre (socialist ingrained and a wholly redundant activity) involving a series of obtuse activities with signatures in banks, local tax offices, government approved printer's shops, collecting multiple receipts (literally for a few Stotinka in some cases) and more self-inking stamps than you've seen Western Europe since the '70s!

This is just another example of an archaic business process muddying otherwise swifter flowing digital waters, solely because they ensure each 'stamper' and 'signatory' located in the inefficient (business stamp ownership) chain receives their nibble of cheese (and historic [allegedly bribable] compliance). The systemic overhaul that eludes future policy makers in government and their current inability to effectively analyse the needs of the business environment versus the social education of the populous is legend.

They rarely question these legacy chains of socialism created in an era where checking the checkers and watching the watchers was common, the persistence of such a theme is constantly dragging the country down from a competitive sense. The low personal and business tax rates in Bg are certainly beneficial to its economic development, but not when applied in the quagmire of such bureaucratic dysfunction. I did note the change this year for the accounting / tax forms for non trading Bg companies being replaced by a Director's statement, which made sense and is one step forward out of the morass.


Bulgarians, disappointed by their political reality for centuries, a reality in which they did not feel they belonged, are still looking beyond the borders of the country – towards the EU for salvation. Although Bulgarians are already EU citizens, they're waiting on the citizenry of other EU states to install order and law in their own, in order to halt the endemic corruption, punish the guilty and restore the stolen funds.

Across the (not so) blue Danube where a demographically younger Romanian state has begun to sort out some their bad eggs, it's a start and there's still a tough struggle ahead, but nonetheless the endemic state corruption perhaps has more chance of reduction, because the engagement of young people and ultimately their resolve is a force to be reckoned with!

Returning to the principles proposed by Morgenthau, including his view of nations as political entities in pursuit of their respective interests being defined in terms of power. Policies should be pursued respecting the interests of other nations, whilst protecting and promoting those of their own State and in this context Bulgaria has seen a net benefit to its EU membership.

However, it cannot rely on infrastructure development alone, especially beyond 2020 when the EU budget comes to a crunch point following BREXIT and the economic stagnation of some other EU countries like Spain or Italy, still mired in youth unemployment. Despite the potential future accession of countries like Macedonia, they'll be loss leaders to the EU budget and the Greek 'bad debt' saga appears certain to continue. Moreover the present trade war being initiated between the US and China over import tariffs can only bode unwell for Europe as their exports are affected.

The only solution to eliminate the slave-like expectation of salvation 'from above' and activate the individual political thought amongst the Bulgarian people, is for them to start living with the democratic traditions of the EU community that s/he's now irreversibly a member. Unless of course there's a BUXIT, but what's the lesser of the two evils?
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Seedy
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2018 4:04 am 
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It's still very early and I haven't yet had the decided pleasure of reading the whole of your latest opus, Mr X - but I'm tempted to suggest that WDL is a questionable source for determining which was "the first printed book in Bulgaria", unless your meaning is "the first book printed in Bulgaria", which The Sunday Book might perhaps have been. However, the quill-wielding Paìsiy Hilendàrski was very much rowing against the tide in 1762, as the first known book printed in Bulgarian was published some 200 years previously and it's reasonable to assume that a copy or three would have found their way to Bulgaria, especially given its subject matter - Advice for Travellers Wink

There is of course another contender for the title of First Printed Book in Bulgarian but, particularly since it came courtesy of the Vatican - a source on a par with RT when one talks about reliability - and anyway appeared a century later, I feel reasonably confident in suggesting that its claim is as credible as those of virgin births, resurrections and the (infinitely more agreeable) wine-from-water prestidigitation which emanate from the same source.

Pool Re is a rum bird, predicated as it is on making dosh out of HMG's propensity for pissing off (and on Wink ) Foreign Whallahs and then charging UK companies for the dubious "privilege" of trying to protect their businesses and staff when Johnny Jihadi decides to return the favour. It also wouldn't do Pool any harm to revisit their website, IM(not very)HO: the clunkiness of their tagline is only exceeded by the ungrammaticality of the metadata that some lazy coder has left strewn around like irritating toast-crumbs under the duvet. "Out of sight, out of mind", one imagines.... Cool
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2018 2:42 pm 
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Seedy wrote:
It's still very early and I haven't yet had the decided pleasure of reading the whole of your latest opus, Mr X - but I'm tempted to suggest that WDL is a questionable source for determining which was "the first printed book in Bulgaria", unless your meaning is "the first book printed in Bulgaria", which The Sunday Book might perhaps have been. However, the quill-wielding Paìsiy Hilendàrski was very much rowing against the tide in 1762, as the first known book printed in Bulgarian was published some 200 years previously and it's reasonable to assume that a copy or three would have found their way to Bulgaria, especially given its subject matter - Advice for Travellers Wink

There is of course another contender for the title of First Printed Book in Bulgarian but, particularly since it came courtesy of the Vatican - a source on a par with RT when one talks about reliability - and anyway appeared a century later, I feel reasonably confident in suggesting that its claim is as credible as those of virgin births, resurrections and the (infinitely more agreeable) wine-from-water prestidigitation which emanate from the same source.

Pool Re is a rum bird, predicated as it is on making dosh out of HMG's propensity for pissing off (and on Wink ) Foreign Whallahs and then charging UK companies for the dubious "privilege" of trying to protect their businesses and staff when Johnny Jihadi decides to return the favour. It also wouldn't do Pool any harm to revisit their website, IM(not very)HO: the clunkiness of their tagline is only exceeded by the ungrammaticality of the metadata that some lazy coder has left strewn around like irritating toast-crumbs under the duvet. "Out of sight, out of mind", one imagines.... Cool


Many thanks for your swift note and PM Seedy Wink

As to the issue of the publication of manuscripts or books, my emphasis was about a literary product written in the vernacular Bulgarian language, rather than the more 'secretive' and particularly 'exclusive' higher church script (a form of Slav cyrillic I believe, although it's way outside my knowledge base so I'm open to correction). I'm aware from the limited research considered in this area that I'd grasped the nettle, at least as far as the importance of broader accessibility and application of the Bulgarian vernacular language (as a national identifier), being witnessed, and importantly read by a wider audience.

I've previously mentioned having to do some broader research on aspects of the historical contributions about Bulgaria's developmental journey, and the geopolitical implications of these, invariably produced from my bath time babbles. In consequence, there are several components within my contributions that contain edited chunks, but more specifically those from Bulgarian researchers' or writers' perspectives (since it is an 'InBg' thread after all). I've also had to translate some from non English sources e.g. German and French (although I'm not fluent in either), and re-edit or more commonly summarise their key points rather than quote originals in full, but mea culpa, sometimes the vulgar English Bulgar angle wriggles through Wink

I understand from the ethnologists and social science scholars, particularly within the field of language development and it application (daily usage), that it was the importance of production 'in house' and 'in country', so to speak, irrespective of the production method itself.

I believe a better known example of this was a central feature of Alfred the Great's contribution when he had the Book of Psalms translated into the Anglo-Saxon language and widely distributed copies across his realm, and in particular the Ten Commandments. This was reinforced by his mandate that his Anglo-Saxon noblemen should learn to read and write in the same language. Previously the only accessibility to religion was through Latin text after the Romans and Augustine etc. Although these events occurred much earlier in time within England, similar events occurred later in Bulgaria. I'm not familiar with the content of Paisii's writing, so cannot comment on how far out on the ledge he was perched or downstream his views, but there may be other examples that did not survive the ravages of time.

Invariably, it's the hostile incursions/occupations and enforced ideologies that occur over time and across different regions, involving damage or removal of culturally significant and ethnically valuable historic materials. These are subsequently stolen, smashed to dust or just 'disappeared', whilst new symbology take their place. It happened to the Aztecs, to the Khmer in Cambodia (the real civilisation not the Pol Pot version), and as I may return to shortly - native North American Indian cultures.

British museums 'did it large' (but there are many others around the world) and are stuffed full of artefacts stolen and 're-homed' by explorers, scientists, archeologists and by warmongers' plunder - sorry military 'eroes later elevated to 'nobledom' and subsequently donated to the crown to cover their debts or sold off to pay death duties on their estates!

More importantly, in several cases these cultural symbols can no longer to be found in their native lands and many items of antiquity are without provenance, because they were plundered, so their significance in time or place become just chunks of missing code in the tapestry of time or factual record (mixing my metaphors I know, but that's the problem).

More recently, the archeological treasures plundered by Iraq during GW1 in Kuwait, and by coalition forces in GW2 from museums in Iraq, together with the sledgehammer actions of Daesh in Syria are obviously modern examples of this type of wanton destruction in just one region. Even the deep South of the US is experiencing their 'disappeared' in terms of Confederate military figures and their mounts, being removed from the public eye. Not exactly plunder and not by a 'foreign' hand, although many thousands of Confederate soldiers who fell may disagree with that sentiment - they may profane JHC and cry Judas instead!

The rights and wrongs of eradicating Nazi memorabilia (which I note are actually quite prolific in many Bg antique / junk shops) in Germany and many parts of the EU, is itself an example of eradicating cultural symbology of a troubling time in Europes history. I have no view either way on its retention or public display (museum piece or memorial) as evidence of an influence in a country's timeline. Clearly this myth-symbollism as it was is still sewn into the fabric of the human story, just as the Soviet one was and the EU attempts to do through various programmes from SOCRATES to ERASMUS et al. We are ALL Europeans - utter tosh and changing daily as immigration impacts diversity! Common values - some, shared cultures - maybe, future - very complicated!

Similarly, things were done and events occurred in many former Soviet Bloc countries, including Bulgaria post WW2 and again beyond 1989. The slash and burn of government documents, especially land and property title; revisionist history books and museum content to reflect a different past are nothing new! Even Ptolemy who accompanied Alexander in his long quest to the East, upon his return to Alexandria and the establishment of his own dynasty, sought to establish and consolidate a scholastic record of the region, but was it fact, fiction, fantasy or just Greek soup?
http://nabataea.net/ptolomy.html

So to the victor go the spoils and they get to write the history book / records of what has passed! That is until the next conqueror / occupier / recorder with stone chisel, papyrus, quill, lead type, braille or emojis!!

On a slightly different point, but one more central to the modern era, one might consider the use of social media and particularly the application of emoticons and/or even snapchat visual language that may eventually form a 'vernacular' universal language or b*st*rdised regional example with the use of 'Tinglish' or 'Thailish' (upper + lower class) in a different context.

In time, Cantonese may be slowly overwritten as Mandarin becomes dominant, whilst English persists in various forms across the globe and Castilian or 'Peninsular Spanish' overtakes Catalan, but is itself superseded by Latin-American Spanish on the world stage. Meanwhile the Portuguese spoken in Rio or the Portuguese heard in Maputo will in time overtake the original language of Lisbon, bizarrely the European Portuguese with their ageing and declining population watch more and more TV from Brazil! Some of these issues are about cultural influences affecting a common language, as in Australia, whilst and some of it rounds on the dialectic anathema of a Geordie and a Cornishman explaining the LBW rule to locals in Barbados or Delhi!
  
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Xanthos
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2018 1:04 pm 
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I've mentioned the ancient migrations before, in the context of 'out of Africa' and the circumstances of colonialism and empires encroaching on native people. The story of the native North American Indians has many parrallels to the Australian native population and its devastation over centuries by the British.

For our own part (British) inflicting damage on the indigenous human component of the North American continent (including Canada) was equally barbaric, although our US cousins took it to an different, 'industrial' level. We consider the lunar tidal influences an important rhythm to our planet's marine and terrestrial ecosystems, including the conversion of this rhythm into green energy outputs in some areas i.e. beneficial. However, the briny influx can also be damaging when High Water Spring tides combine with other environmental and planetry alignment factors to produce exceptional inundations that overwhelm sea defences.

However, the tidal range of human ingress was steady and relatively predictable around the world, at least until the beginning of the last decade, whilst on a global stage there's been increasing movement since post WW2 stabilisation, it's often unmanageable and destabilising with the footfall of particular human waves from Rwanda to Venezuela, Lebanon to Somalia, Tibet to Kosovo, Sudan to Myanmar!

My reference here to ancient history is also indicative of human migration that's energised by expanding numbers and at times by changing environment. Many have read of the key issues concerning water in Saharan Africa and, arid parts of South America and equally damaging effects in the 'Stans' of the former Soviet bloc countries. Unpredictable weather patterns, especially decreasing precipitation combined with deforestation and overuse of land leads to desertification, and these are key factors impacting human migration both past and present. Conflict and environmental factors are the most common cause in the present day, as they adverely affect economic stability. As I mentioned previously we reflect on our past to make sense of the present, and study our history to help plan for the future.

Approximately 23,000 years ago, a mass migration of nomadic peoples, started travelling across a land bridge called Berengia connecting Asia to what is now Alaska during the last ice age, whilst sea levels were 180m lower. It's suggested they may have remained on the bridge up to 8000 years ago before venturing into the continent providing archeological evidence from about 15,000 years ago. Soon after this the end of the ice age meant the Bering and Chukchi seas had covered Beringia.

All Native Americans, including major sub-groups of Amerindians and Athabascans, descend from the same migration wave into the Americas. This was distinct from later waves, which gave rise to the Paleo-Eskimo and Inuit populations, who likely travelled via the Aleutian Island chain. It's a beautiful area for sea kayaking trips in the summer by the way and I may be able to recommend a couple of guides if it takes anyones fancy. Wink

These Paleoindians are genetically tied to all Native Americans, but diversification into the distinct tribes known today occurred after arrival in the Americas, not before. Some Amazonians descend from forefathers more closely related to the indigenous peoples of Australia, New Guinea and the Andaman Islands than present-day fellow Native Americans. However, the numbers across the whole American continent once exceeded 50M, settling in the frozen North right down to Cape Horn.

By the time Christopher Columbus finished his crossing of the Atlantic (believing it to be the Indian Ocean) and reached the Caribbean rather than the Asian continent in 1492, historians estimate there were between 10-15M indigenous peoples living in what is now the US and when the Europeans came to the New World this land was far from empty, so where did all these people go? Just four centuries later the estimated number of Native Americans still living in the US was less than 300K. In the 2001 census there were 5.2M people identified as American Indian or Alaska Native (includes the Inuit people). By happenstance thats the projected size of Bg's population within 30 years!
 
Most people are aware that the Native Americans in the North were primarily hunter gatherers often ranging across the landscape, and unlike the Europeans and Asians who colonised the continent later, the indigenous people had not been exposed to the microbiology of those continents and nor had they damaged the environment through their travels. For similar reasons that Cassini was not crashed into Titan, thus avoiding the risk of environmental contamination, the adverse impact of mass European migration to the Americas was an early causation of native population decline.

European and Asian lifestyles had literally thousands of years of history in proximity to domesticated animals, but Native Americans did not possess an immune system conditioned for the pathogens spread by cows, pigs, sheep, goats, and horses. Again this is an interesting phenomena of expats in Bg who may find themselves unwittingly transmitting illnesses (e.g. HiV, HepC) or being the recipient of new bugs (e.g. Rabies) and adverse reactions to insect stings/bites. One Balkan example in Kosovo from the early noughties proved the case that the influx of NATO/UN personnel to Pristina from 2000 directly increased the HiV infection rates amongst Kosovars by 300% over a ten year period. Tragically Native Americans were killed in their millions by diseases brought by settlers namely measles, influenza, smallpox, whooping cough, diphtheria, typhus, bubonic plague, cholera, scarlet fever and syphilis, wiping out a staggering 90% of the Native American population.

In consequence, the most significant reason for the rapid decline of the indigenous population was disease, but it wasn't an intentional action, given colonists poor understanding of epidemiology and disease control in that era. Unfortunately, that's not the whole story!

A few events confirm European attempts to exterminate natives. In 1763, a particularly serious uprising by the Delaware Indians threatened British garrisons in Pennsylvania (a state that features a lot within my meanders). General Sir Jeffrey Amherst, Commander in Chief of British forces in North America, was worried about limited resources, and concerned by the atrocities committed by some Native Americans; he wrote to Colonel Henry Bouquet at Fort Pitt (where there was a smallpox hospital for Colonists), stating - "You will do well to try to inoculate the Indians [with smallpox] by means of blankets, as well as to try every other method, that can serve to extirpate this execrable race.”!

There was considerable controversy later, as to how far this practice actually extended. It's for certain that some Native Americans were distributed blankets and handkerchiefs previously owned by contagious patients in the smallpox hospital, but whether this was the only disease vector that resulted in multiple fatalities amongst the tribe is uncertain. The Smallpox virus otherwise known as Variola Major (there is a much milder form Variola Minor) is a deadly disease with a 30% mortality rate amongst those infected.

Some Public Health experts, believe Smallpox was responsible for more fatalities than all other infectious diseases combined over the centuries; in part this is because the virus can last outside of the host for long periods at room temperature. Whilst the size of this biological attack from Fort Pitt may not have been large, it was indeed a crime involving WMD, of a biological agent knowingly applied to lethal effect; those involved included a Militia Captain called William Trent, appears to have enthusiastically followed his orders!
https://journals.psu.edu/phj/article/download/25644/25413

When the Europeans first arrived, they may have considered the land was uninhabited, because American Natives were wary, but when they discovered they weren't alone why did they just crash in?  It's obvious really, it was 'God's will', the Europeans believed they were superior beings and in the case of Columbus at least, he considered the Pope had his back!

If we remove the veil of the European prism over these subsequent centuries of illegal migration, it's evident that the American Natives as they lived at the time, had highly developed civilisations, with complex languages and social structures, considerable spirituality with advanced knowledge of natural medicines, farming (including gathering wild food) and hunting.

Traditional knowledge was rooted in their landscape and both were revered, nothing was wasted (for example the Buffalo hunt used 100% of the animal, unlike the tragedy of the later buffalo hunters' wanton waste), the weak of the tribe were fed first and the old with less teeth given the softer parts. From the perspective of civilisation they were not inferior to the Europeans, but early Puritans defined Native Americans as savages, somehow inhuman and undeserving of the rights accorded White Men. It left the people of those Native American nations few choices. However, those Europeans had closed minds (usually steered by religious edict) and possessed superior weapons.

As far as the Native Americans were concerned they weren't keen on their discovery, especially when they received the sharp end of tyranny! They could assimilate with the encroaching European population, although it hadn't worked that well either with the Pilgrim Fathers or the Virginia settlers. They indigenous groups could move West ahead of the relocated, however, a steady rate of violence and attrition (over lebensraum) took its tool on many Native Indian nations often followed by malnutrition.

You may consider the parallels and see similar migration patterns from a socio-economic perspective. The European communities of the present day are settled, believing they have rights established over millennia, whilst they're wary of 'intruders'. On the flip side, unlike their Amero-Indian counterparts, the Europeans for the most part created the circumstances that have brought new human waves to their shores and continue to energise it through repeated arms sales, and mineral / energy resource exploitation.

Moreover, the European sedentary lifestyles have led to other health problems (e.g. Endemic obesity, Type2 diabetes, loss of population resistance to Tuberculosis and many other diseases), and have also ensured they no longer exhibit the same resistance to disease vectors or microbial attacks of 'bugs' they previously exported to other continents! The 'new human waves' bring antibiotic resistant strains of Tb, STIs (e.g. Gonorrhoea, Syphilis) together with high rates of HiV and HepC to name just a few.

Back to the future - later!
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2018 7:27 am 
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I'm rather taken with the mental picture of unwittingly AIDS-ridden expat junkies spreading disease by sharing bodily fluids/needles with unsuspecting Bulgars but taken aback at the revelation that we are but a ripple in the flood of infectious humanity paddling across the Med as we doze at our posts, Mr X. Cool Would you recommend a cordon sanitaire to prevent such an influx or do you advocate more proactive measures? I'm no expert in the field but my understanding is that naval mines sadly aren't effective against inflatables, albeit they might be very handy in deterring the Maritime Uber Service laid on by presumably well-meaning folk determined to ferry a few million Typhoid Marys over to the Land of Milk and Honey (and free access to medical services).

You don't mention your opinions about our own residual guilt for the actions of previous generations but are you more inclined to beat your fists upon your breast, or your sword against your shield? We should be told! Wink
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PostPosted: Thu May 03, 2018 2:45 am 
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Seedy makes some useful observations and asks a couple of interesting questions; the latter I'll deal with separately.

... we are but a ripple in the flood of infectious humanity paddling across the Med as we doze at our posts, Mr X.

Yep a mere fractal of time and an infective tide is all! In truth the tidal range around the Med is quite small compared to the likes of Alderney or Arran, but they can become very choppy waters, as can the Adriatic when th Sirrocco blows the hot desert air Northwards to Southern Europe. Of course those particular 'floods' inundated all three continents over millennia, beyond pre history and as previously written, later involved Greeks, Macedonians and Romans on to the Moors, Spaniards and Crusaders (a mixed assortment thereof), before the Ottomans, French, English, Italians, Germans and the Yanks broadly set the scene for the latest great multitudes, who've been arriving at a steady rate from all compass points E through S and SW.

For centuries, every mass human transit ensured that plagues and pestilence were spread far and wide across the African, Asian and European continents, whilst stirring the genetic pool a little (a lot during peak events). Some of the uninvited micro-organisms were carried by humans, whilst others were carried by their beasts of burden or in their supplies, as parasites, bacterium or viral threats that would later mutate.

Spanish Influenza, likely brought from China via immigrant workers to the US and thence with soldiers to France in 1917; Bubonic plague with the Crusaders to the Levant in the Middle Ages; Ebola from the East coast of Africa to anywhere that would have it at the height of the slave trade! Meanwhile the 'gifts' from the Americas saw the arrival of Syphilis, most likely carried by his crew after their coital shenanigans in (what is now) the Dominican Republic, unwittingly delivered by Columbus after his exploits to the New World in 1492.

The American natives were later 'lethally rewarded', unknowingly by immigrants with Smallpox from Europe, as I remarked previously! Bio shares are fair in love and war!
Current meta-research appears to agree that the progenitor bacterium linked to the treponeal disease originated knowingly in the Americas, subsequently developing into the devastating 'Neapolitan Disease', later named the Spanish Pox, French Pox etc., etc., as it ravaged the bedchambers and backstreets of Europe for centuries.
https://tinyurl.com/yborahdt

I've always liked Voltaire's sarcastic wit, and amongst his humorous quips there's reference to King Charles VIII of France following his Army's invasion of the Italian peninsula in 1495, a couple of years after the return of Columbus. He later wrote - 'On their flippant way through Italy, the French carelessly picked up Genoa, Naples and Syphilis. Then they were thrown out and deprived of Naples and Genoa. But they did not lose everything – Syphilis went with them.'

The treatments for the pox were just as likely to kill a victim before the disease ran its full course to end in agony or insanity, involving remedies such as mercury or arsenic and many other strange potions, leading to commiseration of the afflicted and wise quips - 'a night with Venus, and a lifetime with Mercury'! Mercury was eaten, inhaled, and rubbed into the skin, but by the 1800s, people were not ignorant of what mercury could do to a person, but no other treatment seemed to work as well. Patients were exposed over and over until their symptoms cleared up, or they died.

Later the 'Magic Bullet' was developed - a drug called '606' or dioxy-diamino-arsenobenzol-dihydrochloride, if you're seeking a higher Scrabble score! By WW2, just as penicillin was being developed, a clinical trial at Staten Island on 4 US marines, afflicted with primary and secondary stage Syphilis was discovered to be effective, after tests revealed they'd been cured of 'the pox' - so they didn't have to go the way of Al Capone!

Richard Arnold was one of the physicians involved in this 1943 trialling with heavy doses of penicillin; 43 years later he wrote - “Syphilis was once a dreaded and dreadful disease ... the heavy-metal cure often caused thousands of deaths each year.  The morbidity and mortality of the disease itself was horrendous, involving all ages from the foetus to the elderly.”

Why have I chosen Syphilis you may well ask? Well, thankfully it never chose me, but it's a particular nasty that mimics many different ailments, and in the days before biochemistry found its feet (or the spirochete in this case), it was a devil to diagnose for the barber shop physicians.

My previous reference to the fate of Native American Indians exposed to new diseases and a different sort of 'pox', that their populations had no immunity to, also highlighted the vector of deliberate infection with soiled sheets and blankets, a technique as old as human history e.g. rotting carcasses lobbed over the walls by the trebuchet during castle sieges in medieval times. The VC were particularly fond of this technique too, no trebuchet involved, just a miniskirt and boob tube mon cher, whilst the hooker's family were held hostage if she wasn't a VC die hard patriot!

Together with the 'Clap', it ensured the prostitute bars in Saigon, popular with US troops for their R&R, were well 'dosed' thus demoralising the US forces. It's questionable, as to whether Daesh employed a similar technique in Iraq and Syria. For certain it's in their modus operandi - Boko Haram and many other groups exploit the same tactic!

So, in the case of the pox we await the changing nature of a spirochete that once induced an epidemic, but later became episodic. There are of course numerous other viral or bacterial killers packaged in human organs and tissues, carried and transmitted by millions of people, many of them quite unknowingly.

The peaks of these episodic Syphilis blooms (together with other STIs) invariably occurred with the mass movement of military forces during wartime, as evidenced in WW1, WW2, Korea, Vietnam et al. Present circumstances acknowledged, especially where rape is used as a weapon of war in many African conflicts (Europe too - e.g. Bosnia, Chechnya), the future holds new gifts of a bio-chemical nature, but not necessarily those only affordable to Putin's deep pockets!

Cave drawings believed to be 10K - 15K years old and discovered in France, allegedly depict a man using a condom during sexual intercourse, whilst the Greco-Roman writer Antoninus Libralis circa 150AD described the earliest known Femidom used to prevent pregnancy. There are 3K year old Egyptian drawings illustrating the use of ornaments and early penile sheaths; these were also used in prehistoric times for many reasons unrelated to sex e.g. protection in battle, decoration or indicative of social rank, and sometimes protection from insect bites. Most importantly, the common use of a condom for protection against disease (rather than just unwanted pregnancy), didn't appear until the scourge of Syphilis started to wreak havoc amongst Europeans in the 16th Century.

The condom of those times didn't serve Casanova that well; he still met his demise from a plethora of STIs, despite his qualitative party trick of pre nuptial inflation i.e. leak testing of his preferred linen sheath. It didn't save him from neurological affliction of the pox either, but he still made it to age 73.

Certainly a mate is as 'Mates' do, so when Casanova met Henriette de Bourbon‐Conti, the Duchess of Chartres in 1750 who was suffering from a disfiguring syphilis, as an amateur scientist (and major con artist), he prescribed an unusual treatment. Later she was all smiles for the 'big C', at least the parts of her facial anatomy not eaten away, that could still organise a grimace; she 'd noticed a transient improvement with her lesions - nonetheless she died 4 years later in the company of Mercury!
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3649591/

I read in that last link that Arthur Schopenhauer didn't favour war as a philosopher either, in fact he held that Syphilis and war were the two greatest enemies of mankind (humankind for PC readers amongst you). Even Goodyear got in on the act, replacing other materials such as Chinese silk and sheep intestines, whilst advertised as top tip for mounting Venus, at least before latex hooded the phallus!

The 'French Letter', assumed many other names in history, as did Syphilis, but the latter was certainly the undoing of many royal households and governments when 'unsheathed', especially when neural tissue became the internal target of the infernal spirochete! As to the British resolve we produced little more than spit, until we invented the lubrication for condoms in 1957, but it still greased the Chemists' palms in more ways than one!
https://tinyurl.com/y8dmjhxk

Back to the present day, where serious research efforts are being made on the pharmaceutical front in the development of new drugs and treatment protocols to combat these fast-mutating bacteria. New answers are needed to address both old and re-emerging diseases. The issues are real and the outcomes inevitable, especially in countries where conflict and/or criminality aids human trafficking and illegal drug use.

Likewise amongst populations that are weakened through malnutrition and inadequate health care systems. There are also particular problems for populations that've commonly purchased broad spectrum antibiotics over the counter for decades, although this is belatedly being addressed in the EU and elsewhere. The latter is a proven factor in the increase of drug resistant bacterial strains affecting a range of previously well managed diseases.
https://tinyurl.com/yakrj48v
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Seedy
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PostPosted: Thu May 03, 2018 6:41 am 
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Xanthos wrote:
..the two greatest enemies of mankind (humankind for PC readers amongst you).


Shame on you, Mr X - you've clearly been one of those dozing at the back while Progress has left you far in its wake!

Humankind is a no-no these days, along with woman, female, person and all those unenlightened terms so beloved by Linguistic Dinosaurs such as you and Yours Truly. Just keep repeating the mantra*: "Language is owned by the mass of users, not by those who have the faintest idea what words mean or how to use them"

Fortunately(?) things are much easier for us all now that there are more "genders" than even Mr Heinz could dream of in his heyday or Woolies supply at the height of their domination of the Pick-n-Mix world....

* See what I did there? Wink
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PostPosted: Thu May 03, 2018 11:58 am 
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Seedy wrote:
Xanthos wrote:
..the two greatest enemies of mankind (humankind for PC readers amongst you).


Shame on you, Mr X - you've clearly been one of those dozing at the back while Progress has left you far in its wake!

Humankind is a no-no these days, along with woman, female, person and all those unenlightened terms so beloved by Linguistic Dinosaurs such as you and Yours Truly. Just keep repeating the mantra*: "Language is owned by the mass of users, not by those who have the faintest idea what words mean or how to use them"

Fortunately(?) things are much easier for us all now that there are more "genders" than even Mr Heinz could dream of in his heyday or Woolies supply at the height of their domination of the Pick-n-Mix world....

* See what I did there? Wink


I do try to keep up, especially when linguistic tangles can expose your ignorance to the cluster of homo* sapiens attempting to neutralise their genus. I've always been a little confused when operating in a professional environment, but more especially within organisations like the British military where its male dominated framework has always lagged three decades behind society, deliberately ignoring changing societal attitudes, despite lurches in AF policy and military law every time they lost cases at the ECHR!

Before the introduction of CDRILS, one of the younger Captains in an SO3 appointment (a staff role) serving under my command in 2006, was capbadged in the Parachute Regiment, but wanted to become Jan! Some years later s/he achieved this, but not before the Army had tied itself in the proverbial Gordian knot forcing Ian out, before Jan made her documentary and wrote the book! Both, Ian and Jan were actually a fairly determined and genuinely pleasant individual; just a little too Scottish perhaps, but then no one's perfect!

*Homo Sapiens loosely translating to 'Wise Man', see what I did there?
  
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Seedy
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PostPosted: Thu May 03, 2018 12:21 pm 
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Perhaps "Jan" - and the British military establishment - should have considered the (reputed) original "solution" to the problem of the Gordian Knot. It would have definitely "cut out the middle-man...." Embarassed Wink
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PostPosted: Thu May 03, 2018 2:03 pm 
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Seedy wrote:
Perhaps "Jan" - and the British military establishment - should have considered the (reputed) original "solution" to the problem of the Gordian Knot. It would have definitely "cut out the middle-man...." Embarassed Wink


OK, I'll grant you treble InBg Scribble points for that one Wink

Just in between paint coats at the minute, so briefly reflecting back on the events concerning Ian / Jan, both were competent at times and exploited their media talents, whilst 'Utrinque Paratus' was our creed and the UK and international press did the rest for Austen!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rk_J-7-GqI8
  
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PostPosted: Thu May 03, 2018 2:19 pm 
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Seedy posed this '... and recommend a cordon sanitaire to prevent such an influx or do you advocate more proactive measures? ...'

To survive on earth, the human race must evolve. At least this is the working assumption, because as Macron recently suggested ... 'there's no Planet B', so who knows what that version of the future holds? Perhaps the Charlton Heston version of 'The Planet of the Apes' might hold some truths, if the Musk mission heads to Mars and goes awry! Of course, there are no guarantees that the human race will survive at all, the dinosaurs probably thought their life was sweet too!

Little did Columbus know about how badly he'd screwed up the planet (in so many different ways) after hitting the wrong continent, and all with the Pope's blessing! His own letter home described lands with “large flowing rivers” and “trees of endless varieties,” and of 'timid natives' who “are so unsuspicious and so generous with what they possess, that no one who had not seen it would believe it,” ... Shades of Merkel's madness you might think, Mad King George also lost a continent, although he didn't really mind or even know that he didn't care, even in his later mind!
https://tinyurl.com/y8zzn53o

As to your question, you have my answer - no border, either soft or hard will suffice, because the people it seeks to 'protect', have become hostage to the ill gotten (some legitimately earned) gains of their ancestors' earlier venture fortunes - you reap what you sew and all that! The socio-economic weakness is endemic to nations that now have a greater fear of WW3 than a real desire to commit the necessary resources to prevent it - 'Si vis pacem para bellum' and all that! Anyone keeping tabs on the Israeli, Iranian, Saudi and US chess pieces of late, will be aware the cauldron is overly hot and surface tensions are bubbling something fierce!

The EU countries, which we're considering here (including our primary interest in Bg) are mostly inured to the conflict agenda of MENA, whilst believing they'd freed themselves from Eastern harm once the Cold War ended. It's an inevitable truth, however, that the younger a state's population is, the more disconnected it is from political leadership; if employment and progress are stable - so is the state, whilst the higher the youth unemployment levels rise, the greater the risk for civil unrest and internal conflict.

In the case of Iran and Saudi, that dynamic is also fuelled by the Sunni - Shia dimension and years of proxy fighting. Netanyahu is in trouble politically, given the corruption scandals and pressure from police investigations, but like any experienced politician caught in the headlight he's going for the distraction option concerning the Iranian nuclear deal that Trump disfavours.

I raise this, because the unholy trinity is about to ramp up their arms sales in the region. Consider this small factoid, apart from the Iranian Republican Guard presence in Syria there are an estimated 150K Hezbollah fighters in country too, notionally assisting Assad and his Alawites (a Shia branch of Islam) in this predominantly Sunni-Shia proxy war!

Meanwhile, the British Army is currently 8400 short of its 'Manning' targets according to Director Manning (Army), yes that's what she (Brigadier Nesmith was/is the Director) recently reported to the NAO. The reduced size of the Regular Army was scheduled to be 82K 'strong' at this time (given it was reduced from 102K in 2015), but it now hovers in the mid 70Ks i.e. half the size of the Hezbollah forces currently fighting in Syria.

In 1916 Sykes and Picot were not only scribing lines on maps that would later become those states, they were dividing the land up like a Victoria sponge cake before the carnage of WW1 was halfway finished! What price the French Empire now, the Levant having been in perpetual turmoil for 60+ years!?

Military forces invariably herd human movement in conflicts (somewhat hastened by indiscriminate bombing and especially the use of CWs in the case of Syria), meanwhile high tech precision bombing strikes by coalition forces do not halt or reduce refugee flows. Lebanon is the general direction of the present herding, further destabilising the Levant in favour of Tehran. Israel simply cannot afford this, whilst Riyadh also rejects it, and the US won't give Tehran the latitude so the nuclear deal will crumble.

Higher world oil prices pressed by OPEC make US shale increasingly affordable, but they'll also benefit Russian sales. For Europe it's all bad, but the border will not harden as the EU is too conflicted, whilst Erdogan still controls the tap, and this summer will offer a boom trade for human traffickers in MENA too.

Back to homo sapiens - without integration this gene pool suffers, unless it's exposed to enough biological nasties and becomes more robust through evolution in order to survive! I mentioned earlier in the thread about the fate of Neanderthal Man - our meeker, milder and long extinct cousin!

Australia has tried to isolate the problem by being meaner (some say selective, but those who've reviewed the PNG island solutions may not agree), and the advantage of being a big-arrsed continent, with long distances to alternate landfall with deep, treacherous oceans to hide the evidence of double payments to traffickers! For goodness sake, they don't even play cricket with a straight bat anymore! Global opinion has therefor isolated its stance, just as it has in the US with DACA, but the volume of illegal migration to Australia has declined temporarily.

Further response in hand after the next waxing! For clarification, I'll take no shabby cheek, that's furniture wax to you Seedy!
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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2018 3:21 am 
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As to Seedy's other question ... your opinions about our own residual guilt for the actions of previous generations but are you more inclined to beat your fists upon your breast, or your sword against your shield? We should be told!

To answer this I need to consider the dilemma of my youthful exuberance in the service of HM, undertaking questionable practices in Dhofar or on the NI streets, sometimes in the company of the RUC. Certain activities were considered to be critical to the defence of the nation (or so went my CO's guff on the day), and were sold as such to the madding crowd through the media or denied outright if they didn't fit the narrative of the day!

If the collapse of the British Empire hadn't been realised by leading natives at Westminster, the postwar years in Palestine, Aden and Malaya, followed by the Northern Ireland question, made it very clear. The first English colony foisted on Eire is an enduring political nightmare even to the present day. This age old scab is being picked over once more, because it's still not resolved to everyone's satisfaction, and just as BREXIT bites deep on the border issues, the ermine clad House of Lords rebel - again!

Decades later, after several years of public service and yet more time spent in foreign places, much at HM's behest, but other sojourns on my own initiative. The cynic butterfly emerged (or maybe it was the political realist); now the CO responsible for delivering the 'BLUF' to equally 'gung ho' youngsters, who also hadn't a clue as to what they were really achieving beyond struggling to keep their mates alive each day. Their government hadn't thought that through strategically, more especially in Iraq and despite the maxim espoused by Clausewitz that war is merely an extension of political will! In short, the operational effect overall on Op TELIC was pitiful, and mediocre at best during Op HERRICK, despite the upbeat political mantra of the day!

The British stomping ground in Afghanistan was Helmand province, and despite a decade of British military engagement, ostensibly to eradicate the opium trade, it's now fertile home to an estimated 80% of Afghanistan's poppies. In 2017 the farmers in the province produced 44% of the country's opium, with approximate earnings valued at $584M, that's an increase of 77% from 2016. The lucrative nature of the drug trade is tempting for Afghan farmers with few other opportunities, especially in Helmand.

Meanwhile a few girls got to attend school (a big plus in my view, but ultimately limited upon the Taliban's return - they will, they have and may endure), a few roads were built (good for friend and foe alike) and valiant military efforts made to achieve engineering feats at Kajaki dam, whilst the professional Afghan elite found Western sponsors to escape the country (brain drain results).
https://tinyurl.com/ycwzhptu

I have some very nice photographs from 2006, of me stood alongside our combat cameraman, whilst he filmed 3 tons of seized opium resin being incinerated for an international media facility. Just think how many seasonal ski passes that would have bought me in Bansko, in fact the entire bloody gondola link I suspect!

That particular burn up didn't make even a 0.1% dent in the farm gate price of opium or the heroin street price that year! I wrote earlier about the Taliban waiting for its power curve to increase before consideration of any real political engagement; the Taliban's growing role and larger share of profits in the opium business is likely to make elements of the group even less disposed to negotiations with the central government.

Given the context of my free travel to Afghanistan, courtesy of HM to sniff those pungent fumes of poverty, and returning to Seedy's question, it bears careful examination. In 1841, an earlier generation of the same British forces attacked Canton and occupied Hong Kong in the first war over opium, but not to eradicate it, as the government party line later went in 2006. Instead the mid 1800s saw the drug as the ideal trading commodity to help balance our huge trade deficit with China, whilst preserving the family silver!

It's a lasting legacy of Empire - if readers may recall my earlier post about the British East India Company, our cultivation of the opium grown in Northern India was later expanded through into Afghanistan where it played very little part in the agricultural economy? That misadventure was attacked in the House of Commons by Gladstone, back then he was a newly elected young MP, who wondered if there had ever been - "a war more unjust in its origin, a war more calculated to cover this country with permanent disgrace, I do not know".

Afghan opium cultivation and production rates hit record levels in 2017, despite an increase in its eradication by the Afghan government, that's witnessed the area under poppy cultivation increasing 63% from 2016. More than 810K acres were cultivated and opium production increased 87% to an estimated 9K tons. These figures are from the UNODC records, despite years of anti-narcotics efforts.

The Taliban has expanded its role in narcotics, 'earning' a larger portion of its revenue from the drug trade. Heroin and morphine are easier to smuggle, so those two products are many times more valuable than raw opium. It's estimated that Afghanistan produced 320 - 530 tons of export quality heroin in 2017 and despite eradication programmes rising 111%, the number of 'poppy free' provinces declined from 13 to 10 in 2016.

Opium crops have boomed in Afghanistan, driven by a greater area under cultivation and larger yields per acre. More especially in the wake of water efficient agricultural techniques introduced by Western smart-arses, intending their use for the growth of alternate crops - oops!

UNODC reports greater availability of labour, more readily available technology e.g. fertiliser and solar panels to power irrigation pumps, which makes opium cultivation more viable for many farmers; in fact. The average opium yield rose 15% over the year, whilst 47 - 55% of all opium produced in Afghanistan is made into heroin for export - an even bigger oops!
https://tinyurl.com/y7tx58qo

The truth of Iraq was just a gawd awful bloody mess, much as it is now with no real 'democracy' after so much meddling and no politics at all, at state and regional level, without a heavy duty supply of corruption! Family, tribe, type of Sunni or Shia Islamic persuasion are the tiers of loyalty, whilst too few troops with no coherent or credible strategic leadership, trying to plug the holes in the dyke (and dams i.e. Mosul) with minimal digits and coming up short as always!

Yet the folly of our forefathers and key political figures, the latter mostly ennobled and long since shrouded, ensured their own geopolitical legacy sent many of their countrymen/women (many of them children) to less dignified endings on foreign shores. Others down into the void of distant oceans entombed in rusting hulks or crushed together within the ash of their homes.

Following personal study in different contexts and after careful reflection in the company of many 'Johnny Foreigners', it led me to the view that pursuit of empire was a folly, but it was one the 'risky shifts' that government could not avoid i.e. 'Thucydides Trap', so returning to your question Seedy - I'm ambivalent, and that's my honest answer!

There's a complicated solution that should probably have been considered centuries ago, but in the case of the Anglo Saxons amongst us, Gladstone was politically outmanoeuvred by Disraeli 150 years ago (just 2 or 3 generations back). Gladstone, was also keen to remove the British yoke from the colonies (as were others), so they would fend for themselves. He viewed it would also reduce Britain's financial burden. It was an inevitable choice made in the end, by many unethical individuals who should have declared their interest, but they did not, and chose not to see beyond their own eulogy or headstone inscription - they simply had too much personally invested to make rational choices!

Perhaps, it would have been wiser for the UK, had Disraeli not politically bested Gladstone, but who knows? More importantly perhaps, British democracy should have been more inclusive and taken place much earlier, as a consequence the suffrage battles continued far too long and were still raging, whilst the testosterone flare path of the Commons guided us to our present state.

The method of GB's global exploitation was an unnecessary excess in the minds of 'Little Britain', and like the Thucydides Trap it's a 'pay forward' process. The fortune built on the broken backs of earlier generations, mostly willing adventurers trying their luck to better their family futures.

Unfortunately for my Irish forebears, many starved in the famine, others died en route or in the slums of New York; some fought the US Civil War battles or took to the Oregon Trail, many thrived and became obese Americans! They subsequently sold us a 60 year debt and more recently - 'No win, No fee!' - Scheister lawyer tactics crippling our court systems, whilst others bought up the smaller family funeral directors as going concerns, in order to cash in on burying the post WW2, 60's and 80's* baby boomer cohorts with a decent 'mark up' - and I'm not talking about headstones!

I'll return to ZZ's original article next, together with my heterogeneous ideas and their metaphysical connections!

*the 80's babies are turning into the most obese Brit cohort ever, and will all die young!
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