Friday, April 22, 2011

Geopolitical Anarchy and Strife Surging

As the financial markets ratchet ever higher powered by high risk leveraged carry trades and sponsored by Fed liquidity, the real game for the moment isn't the markets or economy (yet), it's on the geopolitical side where things are really heating up.  Here I thought it would take the Mother of All Crashes (MOAC) to bring on geopolitical anarchy, but now it looks like the reverse - geopolitical anarchy will spark the MOAC.

Let's see, turmoil across the Middle East - most notably Yemen, Bahrain, Syria.  The Palestinians and Israel are going at it again - ok, that's not really news.  Let's not forget Iraq and Afghanistan, though they seldom appear in the news anymore (Mission Accomplished).  And yet, 2010 was the bloodiest year in the past decade in Afghanistan.  In a sign of how the geopolitical deck is getting reshuffled, Iran just sent warships through the Suez Canal for the first time in 30 years, to rendezvous in Syria. 

North Africa has seen major uprisings and "regime change" in Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt and of course Libya.

Nuclear armed Pakistan is an UNMITIGATED DISASTER and arguably the most dangerous country on the planet.  An estimated 30,000 people have died in the past four years due to terrorism.  That's the equivalent of ten 9/11s for that country...

What's going on with North Korea these days?  They shelled South Korea last Fall but lately they've been so quiet...

Mexico has devolved into an ultra-violent narco-state with new victims and killing fields springing up daily.  

Japan, amazingly, despite its triple disaster, seems to be calm, cool and collected for the moment.  As much as I respect the Japanese for their stoicism, I think in some ways they are too complacent, as the handling of this nuclear disaster has been an unmitigated fiasco.  No surprise, the Paid-to-be-Optimistic Industry "experts" have been consistently wrong in underestimating the severity of the crisis.  I can't imagine what it's like to live in Tokyo only 250km from four out-of-control nuclear reactors.  Comfort Seekers, no less than 8,800 km away in California, were shitting their pants and loading up on iodine.   Unfortunately, the stoic Japanese are like frogs in boiling water, and as the British would say, the water is "hotting up".

I know, there are plenty of other skirmishes going on in other parts of the world, but these are the highlights.  Taken in isolation, any one of these issues, might not be so bad, however, what we are witnessing in real time is the inevitable global trend towards increasing anarchy and strife as the Globalized Ponzi Scheme begins to unravel.

Unfortunately, most of these peoples and countries vying for regime change have no experience with implementing or maintaining a stable democracy and its corresponding institutions.  Which likely means many will be soon overrun by military strongmen, religious fanatics, violent anarchists or some Frankenstein's hybrid of all three.

The interconnected globalized supply chain has only made this geopolitical dry tinder box that much more lethal.  It used to be that food supply and distribution were localized and jobs were less specialized - most people had a variety of skills that were conducive to basic survival.  Not any more.  It's hard to imagine how the average urban/suburban dweller will deal with multi-day, multi-week potential disruptions in the food supply.

Despite the Idiocracy's prevailing sentiment of oblivious complacency ("where's the remote?"), we have entered the most dangerous time in human history.  But you don't have to take my word for it, because the signs are everywhere.  Lest we think our policy-makers can handle what is coming, one need only recall the anarchy that ensued after Hurricane Katrina and then magnify by 1000.