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If I said… “Hey, dude, what happened 100 years ago today?”…. about 4 out of every 25,000 of  you, would know and answer back with a question…. “Are you sure you are not talking about 100 years yesterday?”    You would be officially right of course…  June 28th…. But I would be “politically” right, I guess, (struggling for an adjective to describe the rightness I would be..).

To fill in the rest of the 24,996 of you…. yesterday marked the 100th anniversary of the shooting of the Archduke of Ferdnand,,,,

“Who the fvck is that?”  say 24,996 people all at once….  (People in Oklahoma hear that rumble as another frack quake..)

Since reality is 100% of reality, I’ll take that on….

In 1914… there were 5 nations that mattered.  One of the nations that didn’t matter back then would have been the United States; others: China,  and Japan… The 5 nations that were relevant back then actually included Russia, believe it or not…. with Germany, France, Britain, and Austria-Hungary rounding out the full 5… This last nation, I always think of as a joke, and say so sometimes… (“What?  Austria’s Hungry?  What a joke!”)   That is because I tend to ignorant of anything southeast of Germany… I’m an American, you know…

Austria Hungary was called the Dual Kingdom…  Can you guess why?  One was Austria, the other was Hungary.   Austria ran Austria/ Hungary ran Hungary, and a couple of times a year they got together to coordinate…  Those episodes resembled today’s divided Congress.  Neither side would accept the provisions of the other….  and stalemate meant each could go their own way with little interference from the other…   However on security matters they were conjoined…  Austria had the military; a standing army of 900,000..  and Hungary bordered Russia from where any major attack would come…

To the south the ancient empire of the Ottoman Turks was decaying from its inside.  Recognizing that most of the Empire’s attention had to be focused inside of Turkey proper, all 5 relevant  nations begin eyeing the Balkans and Dardanelles and sizing each other up…  Significantly, Russia was very nervous over the Dardanelles because the wrong person owning that property, could bottle her navy inside the Black Sea…

Austria had, in just a very few years before, annexed Bosnia, roughly the same size as it is today, by marching in and calling it their own… Serbia, had wanted the same, but was too small to do anything about it and no one came to their aid…. But people inside of Bosnia who had wanted Serbia to control it, had financial resources made available to help make that happen…

The archduke was the next in line to the Austrian emperor, who himself was getting quite old.  Both the archduke and emperor were primarily pacifists who didn’t believe that war was profitable.  But like any nation, within their cabinet as well as in charge of their military, they had well-spoken ministers who argued that a “shock and awe” first strike was always the best option…

Unfortunately for the world, it was one of those two pacifists who was assassinated 100 years ago today….  along with his wife… killed by what today would be considered a terrorist cell of about 5 people total… working independently…  meeting in secret. etc. etc.  They botched their previous attempts and by today’s standards were almost comical, until they finally got lucky on number 3…

Some people got the word 100 years yesterday… June 28th.  Who these were, were mostly heads of state, many of whom were on summer vacation so telegrams had to jump all over the country, and in some places be put on skiffs and rushed out to meet the heads of states floating in the Baltic….   No one at first predicted what this assassination would preclude… Those who firmly believed in war,  thought it precluded war.  However most thought that was too unreasonable and assumed everyone would of course get mad first, then settle down and make certain arrangements and life would eventually go on as normal…..  After all, worse crises had been settled such….

There were two small problems… One involved the signing of treaties, some secret and some not, that tied promises of reaction to any military invasions of one of the signatories… The other, was the Victorian mode of character which dictated that one dutifully filled out one’s signed obligations, regardless if they had been originally made in error…  One filled out ones obligations and damned the torpedoes.

In efforts to preserve a peaceful Europe, (which had been effective for 40+ years, and probably a world record at that time)…. alliances had been made loosely between Britain, France, and Russia…  With the two extremes  of East and West appearing united, this left vulnerable those who could get crunched in the middle, so they formed an alliance too:  Germany and Austria-Hungary….

But no one ever thought they’d be used.  Ever! Europe was one chummy place.  The heads of England, Germany, Russia were all related, and met for state weddings and funerals regularly.  Vienna was one of the playful destinations in Europe, and socialites from all 5 nations frequented there every summer…  It and Paris vied for the Art & Music capitols of Europe…  Tension was not like during our Cold War at all. Europe was very open and much like international relations today, where one could travel freely, where all the big powers meet occasionally and decided how to deal with each of little tweaks and interruptions….

So 100 years ago today,  people woke up to this assassination story ….  Today (yesterday) is the real beginning of the count-down-clock because for the first time in European history,  the populations inside the nations were to have a profound impact on the upcoming events to come… (even though the structures of the governments were very closed to all but the upper crust of society…) Public opinion primarily through the growth of large metropolitan newspapers, had become an influence that had to be “reckoned with”.

For Austria Hungary was hot!  You can imagine if Joe Biden was killed.  Though some here love him, and some here make fun of him, … were he assassinated, this entire nation would demand retribution….   So Serbia got blamed….   In Austria-Hungary, with one pacifist dead, and the other now solo against a cabinet calling for an invasion, the call to go to war with Serbia came quickly…

Serbia appealed to their soul mate Russia.  There had always been a deep Slavic bond between the two nations… and the head of Russia, when confronted with the fact that his people would rebel against him if he ignored his brother nation’s plea, said Russia would attack Serbia’s attacker if Serbia were attacked by Austria Hungary…   Military philosophy at this time dwelt solely on the benefit of a quick attack.  All armies were trained to attack, not defend.  Simply put, the philosophy was that if you attacked quick enough, you always won…  And all nations suffered from this delusion, though reality had showed it certainly hadn’t worked in all the proxy wars (Boer, Sudan, Balkans)….   As Austria began to mobilize her troops towards Belgrade, Serbia’s capital, Russia began mobilization to send it’s troops to the  Austria-Hungarian border….

Austria Hungary had the second largest standing army in Europe (Russia had the largest due to its gigantic size relative to European nations)  but even still, Austria-Hungary could not both defend its border, and attack/occupy Serbia simultaneously… Therefore they appealed to Kaiser Wilhelm to promise an attack on Russia if Russia attacked The Dual Kingdom…  Previous handshakes had sealed the deal long before, and the Kaiser promised he would….

Now this caused a dilemma within Germany’s army.  Their plan had long called for first attacking France … France was the more dangerous of the two, so it made great sense to defeat France first and then attack Russia, instead of attacking Russia and have a fit France barge in through the back door…   No one had ever considered the option that perhaps a minor limited war with Russia could happen first without French involvement.  But plans were plans and the detail in them was so meticulous that there was really no option to opt-out and siphon off troops to the Russian Border…. (all the trains would be tied up and busy carrying soldiers to the West) until after France and fallen and signed their surrender…  The surprise Russian build-up now meant it was more imperitive than ever that France surrender before Russia could mobilize to march into Prussia proper….

France was insistent that it would not make the first move.  They tried to dissuade Russia to stand down, but Russia’s people felt a personal insult  (and a rational fear of internal overthrow) if Serbia fell, so that didn’t happen.  The French who were the villains of the last European War( the Franco-Prussian War that ended in 1870… a quick war, which France had lost, and been paying repatriation upon for a long time), were very squeamish about being  considered the aggressor again, and so they mobilized defensive forces and  fortified their common border with Germany, just in case.

Britain’s Prime Ministe firmly believed in making alliances but also keeping them secret so both his allies and enemies would be left guessing…  He was so good at it, that the Kaiser was convinced upon invasion, that Britain would definitely not interfere and that Paris would fall quickly as had long been planned (across twenty years)….

The accidental player in this scenario, turned out to be the tiny little neutral nation of Belgium……   With no real army and a reputation for being a peaceful take-what-comes population, its future role had been dismissed by Germany, France and Britain…   Germany simply assumed that it being a neutral nation, it would take the gentlemanly course and let the German’s pass through unopposed to attack France where it lacked defenses.  Britain and France had assumed due to its neutrality, Belgium would be off limits for any German advance….

As troop deployments began to show the German’s hand,  four nations raced to shore up that area….  Belgium said it would not allow German passage and began to mobilize  its defense….  (This infuriated the Kaiser who apoplectically raged how dare that tiny nation not fall in line with Germany’s plans; who did they think they were?)… which shows how reality and clear thinking often had little voice in governments at that time…. Assumptions made by whomever was annointed head of state, tended to always carry the heavier weight.

With everything ready and the impetus on the Axis (Germany/Austria)  to strike quickly and the Entente (Britain, France, Russia) to wait and only fight defensively, all pieces were in place for what everyone thought, would be a short little war… Most analysts assumed everyone lacked resources or the will to fight in order for it to carry over 2 months…  “By Christmas all the troops would be home” each nation’s people were promised….

What impressed me most upon looking back from a 100 years’ perspective and I guess it is true with any war, was how life went on normally for 99.999% of the world’s population while this crises brewed… Future weddings were planned, meetings between future adversaries were scheduled,  treaties and statements of purpose continued to be signed between the future enemies… At any point, if anyone powerful enough had said, “STOP!  let’s talk about it”, (as is done so often today it now seems like an extra step), this war would have been prevented… If Russia had not mobilized, this would have remained a local conflict, taking place only on Serbian hillside  whose outcome have been very quickly settled.  Or if Britain had been forthright, stating that it would come to France’s aid and attack German interests, then the cost of war would have risen to where the Kaiser would have backed down from attacking France first and would have made a deal with Russia…  If Germany had not been locked so deep into its own plans, so that once the order was given to mobilize it started everything which precipitated the next step automatically like a line of dominoes. …. if any of these occurred prior to the  First World War , history would be far different today;  The First World War would not have happened…..

The suddenness is simply mind boggling.  How could Europe go from congeniality and peace and prosperity and hope, to an all-out brawl.  Like a bar fight that erupts instantly leaving lifelong scars?

It would be like today… if we opened our paper and read the news that one of Putin’s emissaries was assassinated in Sevastopol, Crimea….   And…  by this upcoming Saturday (July 5th), Russia had asked China  if it will help fight and China agrees. .. and exactly two and a half weeks later on July 23, Putin’s Russia surprises the world with an ultimatum to Ukraine designed to be so harsh that the Ukraines cannot possibly accept it.  The world holds its breath, and the 5 day deadline passes, and Russia declares war on the Ukraine….  July 28th, exactly on month from today!

NATO mobilizes, beginning with their declaration… .   All NATO units are then put on full reserve and active units are then moved into Turkey, Uzbekistan, Poland, and Finland, positioned along their borders with Russia….

On the last day of this month, July, China calls upon the NATO to stop its mobilization…. NATO says no; it is mobilizing solely against Russia  and for only the protection of the Ukraine people….  Then on August 1st, China declares war on NATO, including the US….

The very next day, August 2nd, China bloodlessly rushes in to occupy North Korea  … China then demands of  South Korea to let them use its seaports to facilitate their landing craft invasion against Japan.  They promise that after hostilities are over, all Korea will be free and promise it can under them become one nation again…

The very next day, on August 3rd, China declares that the state of war now exists between it and Japan, Taiwan, North Vietnam, and the Philippines, and moves their navy into blockade those ports…  All those nations plea for help from the US and the US promises it…..  South Korea to the Chinese surprise, announces despite overwhelming odds,  it will NOT grant permission for China to enter peacefully, NOR allow Chinese military hardware into its country….  A brief testing skirmish occurs on the 53 parallel between US and Chinese troops becoming the first engagement of the war….  On this same day unknown to almost everyone, China and most Latin America nations sign a secret treaty…. relating strictly with the US and stating that if China is attacked, Latin America will side with China in order to protect their massive investments there….

The very next day, August 4th.  China swiftly invades South Korea and quickly over runs Seoul and commandeers all the ports on the peninsula.   China’s massive merchant marine of commercial cargo ships out of nowhere suddenly gather outside all of  Korea’s ports.   The US protests. calling for China to leave Korea. China flatly says it won’t.   The US declares war on China…. The Chinese merchant marine begins loading up the 2 million troops and lands them on the remote undefended section of north-western Japan…  Within 7 days,  2 million Chinese are moving towards Tokyo….

The very next day, August 5th… Latin America surprises all and closes shuts down all commerce with the US, closing it’s borders… All US firms have their property confiscated to be nationalized and the Panama Canal is closed  to all but Latin American and Chinese traffic…

The very next day, August 6th… Putin’s Russia declares war on the US and NATO….. and for what it is worth, the Ukraine declares war on China….

The very next day, August 7th…  The first US troops from Okinawa, land in Japan and rush north to engage the advancing Chinese… Battles ensue and the Chinese throughout the next week, till the 13th, win all of them…

The very next day: August 8th…  NATO and the US finally declare war on Russia…

For the next week, all eyes focus on China’s advance to Tokyo.  Then one week later, August 15th… Ukraine counter attacks a Russian outpost on its border, and regains control of the entire border area… The Russians run back across the border.  It will be the first allied victory of the war…

Two days later… August 17th… The US and NATO forces invade Russia proper upward from Uzbeckistan, and upwards from Turkey through Sochi, and eastward into Belarus from Poland, and towards Leningrad from Finland….

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4 years later, 2018, the armistice will be signed, leaving  37 million souls dead…. 93 million wounded for life…. and 34 million people simply missing… never heard from again….  And the borders between most of the big players will primarily remain just as they are… ( Hopefully all parties refrained from nuclear weapons….. or citizen causalities would be uncountable.)   Unsettled emotional antagonisms will continue to fester, and won’t be settled until after the next great war beginning in 2039…..

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This is how life changing that event was 100 years ago…. Literally it came out of nowhere…..  Just take a moment to consider the breathtaking speed with how fast this occurred and stretch your imagination wide enough to take in us being in a full fledged real world war equivalent to WWI in less than one month and 5 days from today, as you read this and the News Journal and fret over Greg Lavelle… ….. Maybe this could happen today, maybe not.   You and I need to make sure the “not” wins out…. were such a crises to occur.

The lessons of yesteryear are so lost on us today, as I’m afraid they are on every new generation.  I only share interest because of a personal bond with a relative, who was called to France in 1918.  So unlike most today, this history to me is something very real.   Upon my passing, there will then be no one to remind us of how stupidity can sometimes take over an ruin a world of good…  But for the rest of you, 100 years ago today you would be just reading about this life-changing first step in the paper…. (yawn) another assassination in Crimea… possibly thinking  “awwww… how sad”…  but never dreaming it would within four years time, cause you to lose your entire family in the same amount of time that briefly passes between two World Cups….

Life should never be taken for granted. Lesson.  Always be vigilant against war. Always.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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They cost you too…

The drop in payroll tax from 6.2% to 4.2% results in a savings of about $1000 a year to every wage earner.

(If truth were widely known, that tax cut is actually a bad idea. It hemorrhages a dying social security fund, requiring the eventual death of the program or an expensive emergency last ditch surgery in the future.)

But it is hard not to give a $1000 present to every voter. Even if it only comes out as $19 dollars and change each week… But, still again, if your electric bill is $198 and you only have $189 in your account, that additional amount is, well, a lifesaver…..

But, Republicans in the House, even after Republicans in the Senate voted passage, overwhelmingly voted….. not to vote on the measure…

They didn’t vote against it… THEY VOTED NOT TO VOTE ON IT……
(speculation is that they lacked the votes to keep it from passing)..

So, how does that relate to you?

House Republicans (read Tea Party) just voted NOT TO VOTE on whether or not you will be losing an extra $20 a month out of your next paycheck.

Imagine what this is doing to payroll clerks around the country?
Imagine what this is doing to family budgets around the country?
Imagine what this is doing to businesses who rely on consumer spending around the country?
Imagine what this is doing to businesses heavily involved in the financial sector, around this country?

So what would normally happen?

Normally a group that can’t find agreement, acknowledges the sad fact, and long before the deadline, announces that they failed to reach agreement and that things would continue as they were on a temporary basis, to unfortunately allow for more time to solve differences.

But NOOOOOOOOOOOO, …. WE ARE STUCK WITH A TEA PARTY THAT FUCKS THINGS UP.

Instead, we have a vote not-to-vote, then get all sorts of very lame excuses from those who are delaying, none of which apply to the real problem that Social Security is doomed unless drastic action gets taken (higher rates, not lower), and we get nothing….

The tax cut will expire…

It is like sequestering a jury in a room, where everyone after much fact-covering argument has agreed to a judgment, except for one person who’s been bought off. And nothing, nothing, logic, emotional appeal, bullying, snuggling up to, befriending, produces any change. And you go years, every working day, to the same court house, the same jury room, they same chair at the same table, hear the same arguments, hoping against all odds, that today, he will see the light and switch. You go the next day.

That is today’s Congress. Held hostage by Tea Party Republicans who live in a dream world untouched by the reality of living under $185,000 a year. Like that bought-out juror, every day, they hold up progress with the unjustified belief that, if they wait long enough, the other 11 jurors will give up and sway over to the sole juror’s way….

Two things can happen… 1) return to the public and announce a hung jury, and do a complete retrial.. or 2) sneak up to that one juror, put a gun to his head, say nothing, pull the trigger, clean up the mess, dispose of the body, then go out to the public and announce what the 11 of you have decided…..

One is the nice way, sanctioned to due process of law. The other is the American Way.

It’s time to initiate the kavipsian policy of expression or what is otherwise known as “Show Us How You Really Feel”… Who knows? It could become the next great movement? The next time someone you know (or don’t), says anything about how millionaires should keep their tax cuts and the poor should pay, nod your head in agreement, smile a little bit, then hit them as hard as you can in their mouth, I mean as hard as you can! Put them flat on the ground holding their jaw… Then loudly say, “Don’t every talk that stupid way to me again!” Who knows, if 99% or all 303,930,000 would respond that way to our fellow congressional delegates, and the other 3.9 million of their like who advocate such madness, we might actually get the very progress we need, not because of intimidation, but because such policy is right….

For those who argue expression of violence is un-American, I’ll remind them that tonight, is John Wayne Night on AMC: view it!… I argue that such action is VERY American and perhaps it has been the lack of such spontaneous expressions of frustration from working American people, that has caused the logjam where nothing gets done because of one holdout, who thinks he can sway the world to his opinion and face no consequences… ….

Practice now, by punching brick walls.

Having recently seen the Harry Potter movie, it is scary. Ever since watching…. I now see giants everywhere. Before when I looked, I never knew they were there…

Two giants will be doing battle here in Delaware… (The recession is finally paying off for our little state.)

Papers were filed with the ITC (International Trade Commission) by the South Korean giant Samsung LED against a division of another giant this time from Germany, Siemens….. over 8 patient infringements.

Samsung LED also said it filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Delaware to seek damages and a permanent injunction to bar Siemen’s subsidary, Osram’s alleged patent infringement from entering this country.

At stake is the financial future of these two companies. One will win, and the other for lack of a better word, will be vanquished.

Since Siemens actually has a plant in Delaware, next to the Glasgow Park off Route 40 and 896, I’m putting my bets on that giant…. if they get hurt, it will cost jobs.

Hotels, restaurants, transportation companies all stand to be a little busier as this gigantic fight, gets under way…. It would be helpful to practice on the Korean and German dialects now, before the event gets under way…

Sprechen sie deutsch?

니미럴 개자식 ….

It should be an interesting fight.

Beginning with a 7.2 quake on Wednesday, March 09, 2011 at 11:45:20 AM at epicenter, there were 21 quakes registering over 5.0 leading up to the big one.
All were very near where the big one was to take place….

Then, for almost thirteen hours, there were none… Preasure was building…. and building, … and building…..

WHAM!

Since the big one, up to this posting, there have been 240 more over 5.0…..

The tragedy is sad, and as the death toll rises it will get sadder…..

But my original takeaway was that very little damage occurred… Considering this was the worlds largest earthquake near a modern nation, the damages were less than anticipated.

Why? Intelligent people came up with intelligent solutions. Call it the superiority of science over religion….

We still have a nuclear situation that may grow out of hand, and we still have to pull a lot of money out of the globe and funnel it back to Japan, but overall, watching the videos of the quake, I was impressed by how little damage actually occurred. This was the 5th recorded largest in the world! Total damage: two bottles of red wine?

The tsunami was a different matter. Those images shook me up. I remember after seeing them while listening to Rick Jensen discuss the Wisconsin Walker fiasco.

That radio discussion suddenly seemed so little and petty, after watching cars, then boats, then ocean liners flow down city streets. What scared me most, after seeing Sumatra’s video’s 7 years ago which I thought I could survive, was the flow of what looked like nothing less than a garbage pile, marching unchallenged over fields and into towns, taking them with it. How does one survive that, I wondered?…..

Obviously, for a tsunami’s in a urban area, the answer is to build shelters that are tall. A tall concrete tower with a rounded concrete surfaces to lessen the impact from large floating objects, is obviously the best solution. The water flows in, around, and back out to see.. Multiple of these around a coastal city with sufficient warning, could drastically cut down causalities in urban areas closer to zero….

I was equally impressed by the sirens and loudspeaker systems that were evident in the videos filmed across Japan. Socially, the Japanese are organized much better than are we… Almost immediately after the first tremor, instructions were broadcast across towns for all to hear…

Secondly, I noticed that unlike American homes, most interiors appearing in the Japanese videos showed little furniture. Instead, utility shelves, like the ones seen in store stockrooms and warehouses, seemed to adorn all the homes shown, with computer screens, terminals, cameras and other electronic devices taking center stage. It was as if you went home to a computer screen, that is all you needed.Also I noticed all their cars and trucks looked new. As if all their personal income was spent on electronics, cars, and real estate.

It seems the Japanese learned much from the Kobe quake of 95. I was relieved to see that the damage was mitigated by good engineering..

It’s a lesson we should bring to this nation, if and when we get smart and stop electing Republicans…..

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First Algeria, then Tunisia, Yemen, Jordan, Egypt, and Albania. And I just heard Kyrgyzstan had riots too?

And no one is blaming Israel or the Great Satan? These are truly incredulous times…

So then, who is blame? A better question,…. once facts are on the table, is WHAT… is to blame?

The heart of the problem is in the dysfunctional nature of conservative, traditionalist Arab society. They fail to function economically, because of their values prohibit them from doing so.

Here is a case in point. Nine out of ten Egyptian women suffer genitalia mutilation. This act is not sanctioned by the government of Egypt, but is actually, officially opposed. Mubarak’s wife, actively campaigns against it. Yet nine out of ten women continue to have this done:

Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi – the president of the International Association of Muslim Scholars – explains:

The most moderate opinion and the most likely one to be correct is in favor of practicing circumcision in the moderate Islamic way indicated in some of the Prophet’s hadiths – even though such hadiths are not confirmed to be authentic. It is reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said to a midwife: “Reduce the size of the clitoris but do not exceed the limit, for that is better for her health and is preferred by husbands.”

That is not a Muslim view (the practice is rare in Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Pakistan), but an Egyptian Muslim view. In the most fundamental of matters, President and Mrs Mubarak are incomparably more enlightened than the Egyptian public. Three-quarters of acts of genital mutilation in Egypt are executed by physicians, meaning they are not being performed at religious ceremonies, but are instead being quietly paid by the very parents of the girls themselves.

Fact is, Egypt is wallowing in backwardness, not because the Mubarak regime has suppressed the creative energies of the people, but because the people themselves cling to the most oppressive practices of traditional society. And countries can only languish in backwardness so long before some event makes their position untenable.

So what broke the back of those toiling in Egypt? The price of wheat?

Wheat prices have almost doubled in the past year.

Egypt is the world’s largest wheat importer, beholden to foreign providers for nearly half its total food consumption. Half of Egyptians live on less than $2 a day. Food comprises almost half the country’s consumer price index, and much more than half of spending for the poorer half of the country.

Egyptians love their bread. The nation is the world’s biggest consumer of bread with around 400 grams of bread consumption a day, easily eclipsing France at just 130 grams daily.

So, why can’t the Egyptians buy wheat?

The prosperous Asians are buying it up first. The wheat flows to the area having the most money.

Earlier this year, after drought prompted Russia to ban wheat exports, Egypt’s agriculture minister pledged to raise food production over the next ten years to 75% of consumption, against only 56% in 2009. Local yields are only 18 bushels per acre, compared to 30 to 60 for non-irrigated wheat in the United States, and up 100 bushels for irrigated land.

Prosperous Asians want their protein. And we all know it takes seven times as much wheat to make an equal amount of protein. The Asians have priced wheat out of the Arabs budget.

The trouble isn’t long-term food price inflation: wheat has long been one of the world’s bargains. The International Monetary Fund’s global consumer price index quadrupled in between 1980 and 2010, while the price of wheat, even after the price spike of 2010, only doubled in price. What hurts the poorest countries, though, isn’t the long-term price trend, though, but the volatility.

It turns out that China, not the United States or Israel, presents an existential threat to the Arab world, and through no fault of its own: rising incomes have gentrified the Asian diet, and – more importantly – insulated Asian budgets from food price fluctuations. Economists call this “price elasticity.” Americans, for example, will buy the same amount of milk even if the price doubles, although they will stop buying fast food if hamburger prices double. Asians now are wealthy enough to buy all the grain they want.

If wheat output falls, for example, due to drought in Russia and Argentina, prices rise until demand falls. The difference today is that Asian demand for grain will not fall, because Asians are richer than they used to be. Someone has to consume less, and it will be the people at the bottom of the economic ladder, in this case the poorer Arabs.

Wheat supply dropped by only 2.4% between 2009 and 2010 – and the wheat price doubled. That’s because affluent Asians don’t care what they pay for grain. Prices depend on what the last (or “marginal”) purchaser is willing to pay for an item….

It wasn’t the financial crisis that undermined dysfunctional Arab states, but Asian prosperity. The Arab poor have been priced out of world markets. There is no solution to Egypt’s problems within the horizon of popular expectations. Whether this regime survives or a new one replaces it, the outcome will continue to be a disaster.

So in each of these conservative Muslim states, no matter who remains or takes over, the conditions will not become better until they understand that… it is their conservatism, that is literally the thing killing them.