23rd July 2002


On 30 June 2002 SPIN suggested Yassir should arrest the Hamas leader, or vacate the world stage.

Today's news is that there was an Israeli missile attack on Gaza.  Sheikh Salah Shahada, military leader of Hamas, was among at least 15 people killed, including eight children.

From where I stand, those innocent's deaths come under the definition of "collateral damage".  The primary objective of the suicide attacks that Sheik Salah Shahada ordered against Israeli children was to instill terror.   The primary objective of the Israeli attack was to kill Israel's "Great Satan".

It is regrettable that children were killed.  Perhaps Palestinian mothers should give consideration to the argument that allowing their children near known Israeli targets is hazardous to their children's health.

Before Mary Robinson and other bleeding hearts heap further condemnation on Israel, perhaps they should compare Israeli actions with some of NATO's actions (e.g. bombing trains, TV stations and fleeing refugees) when they were seeking to control Slobbodan Milosevich of Serbia.  Or does the racist Mary Robinson insist that "this is different", or perhaps that Sheikh Salah Shahada was not a legitimate target?

The fury of Hamas supporters is an indication of the efficiency of this strategy.  In a petty warlord/dictatorship culture such as exists in most middle eastern arab states, charismatic leadership talent is in short supply.  In Palestinian terrorist organizations, leaders are essential "nuclei of trust" who attract mission volunteers and whose prestige endorses terrorist missions that encourage further volunteers.

The need for charismatic leaders is the crucial weakness in Palestinian terror strategy.

As leadership nuclei are erased, secondary, less charismatic leaders contest succession, creating stress within the organization.  If a critical mass of Palestinian terrorist leaders within an organization were eliminated, the organization would disintegrate into aimless mobs.

A strategy of total erasure of Palestinian terror leadership would cause "foreign" sponsored terror organizations to blossom.

Judicious selection of which Palestinian terrorist leaders should be targets is necessary.

Equally important is the selection of which missions against those targets should succeed, which should fail.  A failed mission improves the "street cred" of the survivor.

- DEJA VU 1929 -

Today the Dow Jones Industrials retreated about 3% from a level of around 8,000 last Friday.

Talking heads expect the market to bottom after a drop of a further 15% in the next few weeks.  That would drop the Dow to 6,500.

One brave columnist pointed out that P/E are still high.  He suggested that a Dow of 4,000 might bring P/E back to it's historic range.

The latest scandal is that bankers at J.P.Morgan & Citigroup helped Enron conceal it's problems, then onsold the technique to other troubled corporations.

SPIN's two cents worth is to observe that the darkest days of past economic recessions usually occurred in the month of October.   (Maybe it has something to do with the Northern Hemisphere season of "fall"?)

After the 1929 recession it took ten years to recover.

It is going to take a while for economists & journalists to realize that the US economy is undergoing a paradigm shift.  Just as the "Industrial Revolution" turned the landed gentry into dodos, so the "Information Revolution" will turn large corporations into dinosaurs.

If you were hoping to retire on an income stream from investments, well, you might be disappointed.

The USA should go from strength to strength.  It's unique blend of Liberty is far closer than that of any other major economy to what is required to exploit the new information technology.   The new economy relies upon minimal government control & taxes for it's success.

Government taxes are like sand mixed with oil in an internal combustion engine.  Controls destroy the balance of the carburetor.

Australia and Canada will trail the USA.  Japan, Europe and China will ossify in government regulations.

Color India with question marks.

27th July 2002

With the sentencing of Tommy Suharto for having paid assassins to murder a judge, the people of Indonesia have recovered a large measure of self respect.  A nation that does not have a functional Judicial system (like for instance Malaysia) is in practice governed by a dictator.

It will be interesting to see whether Suharto will now be brought to justice.   It is important that at least some of the money stolen by the former first family be recovered.

Other issues are the bringing to justice of military commanders responsible for atrocities.

It would be a mistake to imagine that these issues are unconnected with a nation's economic well being.  When individuals in a democracy invest their savings, they find more security in a nation that observes and honors the rule of law.  Dictators (such as exist in China or Malaysia) might establish by decades of careful government that they are stable and law abiding, however while the selection and election of the dictator is not transparent & democratic, while the dictator seems able to manipulate the judiciary, people who live in a democracy will not feel that their investment is secure.


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