Archive for May, 2019

GLAM FRÅN SYLGSDALARNA – EN FORNTIDA SVENSK ZOMBIE – EN KORTESSÄ

May 16, 2019

Skapte Torodsson den vise (cirka 955 – 1030) på Island hade en fåraherde som hette Glam. I sin ungdom var Torodsson hirdskald hos Håkan Sigurdsson Ladejarl (cirka 935 – 995), som var Norges härskare 970 till 995.

Det får antas att Torodsson under den tiden kom att anställa Glam (Kung Håkon kallades Ladejarl eftersom han härstammade från Ladegård vid Trondheim). Gården finns kvar i en förort till den betydelsefulla nordnorska staden i Troendelag, som var Håkans maktcentrum. Det gränsade till Jämtland och Härjedalen i vad som nu är Sverige. Under lång tid var dessa nu svenska landskap en del av Norge och kallades Oest-Troendelag.

Något geografiskt namn Sylgsdalarna finns inte i Sverige. Med hänsyn till Glams anställningshistoria kan det syfta på landskapet Dalarna i Sverige. Namnet Dalarna anses kunna härledas från flodnamnen Österdalälven och Västerdalälven.

Namnet Sylgsdalarna kan också tänkas hänsyfta till Härjedalen. Namnet på detta svenska landskap anses komma från ”härje” i betydelsen ”stenig mark” och har inte någon anknytning till ”härja” i betydelsen ”plundra”.

Vad som talar mot Härjedalen är det faktum att landskapet inte var svenskt på 900-talet. Troligast är därför att Glam härstammar från Dalarna, som ligger nära Troendelag.

Not

En isländsk zombie kallades under forntiden ”draugr” (pluralis ”draugar”, modern isländska ”draugur”). På svenska används också gengångare, spöke. Den fornnordiske guden Oden kallades bland annat ”draugadrotten” i betydelsen” gengångarnas herre”.

Glam på Island

Glam var anställd av en jordbrukare på norra Island och härjade där som zombie till en dag han mötte den isländske sagogestalten Grette. De råkade i strid. Översättningen från isländska är gjord av Albert Ulrik Bååth i början av 1900-talet:

Då sökte Glam att slita honom med sig ut ur huset, och Grette satte fötterna emot, varhälst han det kunde. Men slutligen lyckades det gengångaren att släpa ut honom ur sovrummet. Nu blev kampen ännu häftigare, ty odjuret ville ha honom ut ur huset…Och han spjärnade åter emot av alla krafter. Glam fördubblade sin styrka, och när de till sist var ända borta i dörröppningen, klämde han till Grette…

Det var månsken med drivande skyar, mellan vilka ljuset glänste fram. Men just som Glam föll, gick skyn undan från månen, så att denna lyste klart; och i samma stund spärrade gengångaren upp båda ögonen; och Grette har själv sagt, att denna syn varit den enda i hans liv, som ingivit honom skräck. Så svek honom krafterna, trött som han var och därtill skrämd av Glams hastigt rullande ögon. Han förmådde inte dra sitt kortsvärd och låg nästan som mellan liv och död. Emellertid fanns i Glam mera olycksbringande kraft än i andra gengångare, ty han talade så: »Mycken möda har du gjort dig, Grette Åsmundsson, att få tag i mig; men ingen skall förvåna sig, om du inte får något gagn av detta möte med mig. Jag kan omtala för dig, att nu äger du endast hälften av all den styrka, som ödet tillärnat dig, ifall du icke hade träffat mig. Väl står det icke i min makt att frånta dig den kraft, som du redan besitter, men det mäktar jag, att du aldrig varder starkare än du nu är, och likväl är din styrka stor nog — det skall många få erfara. Väl har du hittills gjort dig fräjdad av dina bedrifter, men hädanefter skall du av dem endast få dråpmål och fredlöshet; och allt, vad du företager dig, skall bringa dig ofärd och olycka. Fredlös varder du, som sagt, och ständigt blir det din lott att dväljas ensam. Den förbannelsen lägger jag även på dig, att du alltjämt skall se framför dig dessa mina ögon, sådana de nu stirra, och skall för den skull ensligheten synas dig ännu mera osäll. Allt detta skall till sist ge dig döden.»

Knappt hade Glam sagt dessa ord, förrän den maktlöshet, som Grette kände, försvann; och han drog sitt svärd, högg huvudet av gengångaren och satte det mellan hans ben för att förhindra det från att gro fast på sin forna plats. Nu kom husbonden Torhall ut och tackade innerligt Grette för segern över denna orena ande. Sedan brände de Glam till kallt kol. De lade hans aska i en av en hel djurhud förfärdigad, tät skinnsäck, som de grävde ned i jorden långt borta från kreatursstigar och allfarväg.

THE BRONZE AGE COLLAPSE IN THE EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN

May 13, 2019

Cultures are complex systems, made up of a large number of interacting components asymmetrically organized. They often operate somewhere between order and disorder. Such systems can appear to operate quite stably for some time, but they are actually adapting. But there comes a moment when complex cultures reach a crisis point. A very small trigger can set off a crisis — a single grain of sand can cause a collapse

Mycenaean culture, the most important in ancient Greece would reach a peak in around 1300 BC. Only 100 years later, around 1200 BC, the civilization began to disappear. The Mycenaean palaces, still functioning and filled with treasure, were abandoned. Villages and towns were burned to the ground. By the end of the twelfth century, the palace system had vanished.

The main scientific theory has been that the collapse was caused by ”attacks from northern lands” and ”peoples of the countries of the sea”. There were also other collapses in the Mediterranean region (Anatolia, Syria, Lebanon, and Cyprus). The ancient Egyptian kingdom was attacked but managed to resist.

A widespread myth in recent years has been that earthquakes caused the Mycenenaean collapse. A recent German academic study has provided evidence to the contrary.

Bronze Age Mycenaean palaces in Greece were not destroyed by an earthquake catastrophe according to German archaeoseismologist Klaus-Günter Hinzen from the University of Cologne and archaeologist Joseph Maran from the University of Heidelberg. They have reassessed the demise of the ancient cities Tiryns and Midea, part of the culture.

There are a number of hypotheses concerning the perishing of the Mycenaean palaces in the 1180s BC. It was not one earthquake or an ‘earthquake storm’ at the end of the Bronze Age in the eastern Mediterranean that was the cause.

The citadels of Tiryns and Midea, for example, were both built on ridges. The upper town of Tiryns stands on a limestone ridge, while the surrounding lower town stands on loose sediments. The effects of earthquakes on sediments are much stronger, Hinzen and Maran point out. In an earthquake the lower town would be destroyed first, not the palace. Especially in the lower town, however, no damage has been proven.

The ongoing exhibition that will end in June 2019 at Badisches Landesmuseum, Schloss Karlsruhe, in the catalogue ”Mykene – Die sagenhafte Welt des Agamemnon” (wbg Philipp von Zabern Verlag, 2018) has provided the latest and most likely hypothesis for the catastrophe-collapse:

In Kleinasien ging, um 1200 v-Chr. das Grosskönigtum der Hethiter unter. Ähnlich verhielt es sich in den hethitischen Vasallenstaaten entlang der syrischen Küste (Kömigreich von Ugarit). In Königreich Amurru in Libanon, gingen Städten und Palästen unter. In heutigen Israel verliessen Bewohner ihre Städte. Auf Zypern brannte Enkoni nieder. Es herrschte Hungersnot.

Aus den letzten Jahrzehnten vor 1200 v.Chr. liegen vermehrt Indizien für Beutezuege von Piraten und Seeschlachten im östlichen Mittelmeer vor. Die Ausrüstung dieser feindlichen Seefahrer mit Hörnerhelm, Rundschild sowie geradem Schwert mit konischen Heft hebt sich deutlich vor. Sie lebten auf Schiffen. Seevölkereinheiten kämpften als Gardekrieger des Pharaos gegen die Hethither. Diese militärische Strategie des Pharaos erinnert an das Vorgehen römischer Kaiser der Spätantike, die ebenfalls Krieger feindlicher Nachbarvölker (germanischer Stämme etwa) in ihre Armeen eingliederten.

Interne Krisen wirtschaftlicher und politischer Art waren auch möglich. Ein Aufruhr von mykenischen Bauern und Handwerkern, vielleicht?

Using the experience of the method of applied history might be useful to explain what caused the disaster at the end of the Greek Heroic Age when the complex and highly developed Mycenaean culture fell apart.

MORE FOCUS ON THE PACIFIC THAN ON THE MIDDLE EAST?

May 3, 2019

On May 1, 2019, National Interest published an article that questioned the importance of the Middle East to broader strategic interests of the United States. The author concludes that this region is small but politically explosive. Still U.S. global interests demands a shift to the Indo-Pacific region. Excerpts below:

People with long memories may believe that the United States is dependent on Middle East oil, but in reality, the oil crises of the 1970s were an aberration. Throughout most of its history, the United States has been an oil exporter…And over the last two decades, the United States has developed more effective ways to combat terrorism than with large-scale military operations.

…America’s political leadership should be looking to shift resources to those areas of the world where they are most needed to promote the country’s interests. Top of the list for a beef-up is the Indo-Pacific region.

The Pacific Ocean has been strategically important for American commerce since the early nineteenth century. It has been a virtual American lake since the Spanish-American War of 1898.

But the Pacific is a big lake, and costly to patrol. Moreover, there are many security hot spots along its shores. Russia’s Pacific fleet is busy modernizing its ballistic missile submarines. North Korea’s unpredictable Kim Jong-un is armed to the teeth and playing a never-ending game of nuclear brinksmanship. Indonesia and the Philippines need help fighting low-level Islamist insurgencies. And then there’s China.

As a global challenger to American national interests, no other country comes close to China. China repeatedly protests, harasses and threatens U.S. Navy ships operating off its coasts. It has built and militarized several artificial islands in the South China Sea in violation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, to which it is a signatory. And it has begun to systematically challenge the legitimacy of the rule of law in international and commercial relations more broadly.

The Pacific is the heart of America’s new economy. The then-Senator (and later Secretary of State) John Seward foresaw in 1852 that “the Pacific Ocean, its shores, its islands, and the vast regions beyond, will become the chief theatre of events in the World’s great Hereafter.” More than a century and a half later, the Pacific has been fully integrated into American economic networks…

An American pivot in Asia, from Western Asia…to eastern Asia… makes economic and political sense. The ties that bind the United States to democracies like Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan…will ultimately prove strong..More importantly, the American national interest is much more closely bound up with the Indo-Pacific region than with the Middle East. As technology advances…America’s footprint in Asia should shift east, from the Middle East to the Indo-Pacific region.

Comment: The basic argument in the May 1 article is sound. The West and its American hegemon is facing the perhaps strongest challenge ever. More military strength is indeed needed in the Pacific but the Middle East still demands attention. The Iranian theocratic empire is threatening Israel and the stability of the region.

In the Far East Western allies need to provide more resources for the protection of the sea-lanes from the Sea of Japan to the South China Sea. Under Xi Jinping the hawks have the upper hand. The policy since the 1990s has been not to alert the West from its complacency in the regard to China’s rise. To achieve victory China has indeed been patient. It has concentrated not on military strength but on the economy. Behind the benign surface has been an iron will to depose the United States as global hegemon. Without the United States in the lead the West’s influence in the world would quickly disappear. The Chinese leaders have had the use of a highly developed metrics for measuring power status using algorithms. Meanwhile in the West the use of National Power Assessment has been neglected.

China managed 19 years ago to achieve trade normalization. From the beginning the intention was not to accept the provisions of the World Trade Organization. When normalization was approved by the U.S. Congress in 2000 the minority of 197 in the House that voted no was correct in judging China and so were the 17 senators voting no.

The All-Under-Heaven System provides the classical Chinese view of global domination. The establishment of Tianxia is described as a Chinese-led empire that values order over freedom, ethics over law, and elite governance over democracy and human rights. What really is the Chinese intention when taking over in 2049 can be studied in the records of the Tiananmen Square massacre of freedom fighters in 1989.

RUSSIA SEEKS ITS FUTURE IN CHINA AND EURASIA

May 2, 2019

National Interest on April 22, 2019, published a thoughtful article on Russia’s grand strategy. The author went through a number of earlier views on Russia’s long term strategy and concluded:

[The] vision is one in which Moscow is one of several centers of power, perhaps as U.S. hegemony gives way to a multipolar or even a Chinese-centric world order…While Russia is not about to copy a Chinese model of economic or political development, it seeks to position itself in such a way as to embrace China in a soft alliance; one in which Moscow can maintain a position of sovereignty and independence as its eastern flank becomes home to the world’s largest economy, most populous state, and perhaps the next global hegemon.

Both Russia and China have come a long way since the 1990s, and the “friendship” that emerged in the immediate post-Tiananmen period and continued to grow over the years now today appears to be one of the strongest bilateral alliances on the planet. Not only does the alliance provide each country with a secure rear flank, technology transfers and weapons sales support each other’s military-industrial complexes and military modernization. While Russia is still ahead of China in certain areas, including maritime, aviation, and weapons systems, the Kremlin knows that this edge will likely give way in the next ten to twenty years, as China emerges as the more advanced and powerful of the pair.

Together, Russia’s influence on its former Soviet neighbors and Moscow’s strategic alliance with Beijing in pursuit of a multipolar world form the two main pillars upon which Putin’s grand strategy rests. All other aspects of its foreign policy behavior can be traced back to this dual-pronged grand strategy. As the 2018 [U.S.]National Defense Strategy puts it, “Russia seeks veto authority over nations on its periphery in terms of their governmental, economic, and diplomatic decisions, to shatter the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and change European and Middle East security and economic structures to its favor.” These, in a nutshell, are the objectives of Russia’s grand strategy. All of Moscow’s machinations—both foreign and domestic, from clamping down on civil liberties at home to meddling in Venezuela’s revolution abroad, are all in support of these larger strategic objectives.

Comment: The author of the article is Christopher Marsh. He is the president of the Special Operations Research Association and editor of its professional journal, “Special Operations Journal”. He was also the past executive editor of “Demokratizatsiya: The Journal of Post-Soviet Democratization”. Marsh is fluent in Chinese and Russian, and his research interests are many but particularly military cooperation between Russia and China.

THE TROIKA OF TYRANNY: VENEZUELA, CUBA AND NICARAGUA

May 1, 2019

Fox News on April 30 and May 1, 2019, extensively reported on ”Operation Freedom” in Venezuela, the designation for the intensified fight for freedom proclaimed by rightful president Juan Guaido. Excerpts below:

The head of Venezuela’s feared secret police has turned his back on disputed President Nicolas Maduro in an open letter [on April 30].

Manuel Ricardo Cristopher Figuera, the head of the Bolivarian Intelligence Service (SEBIN), is the highest-ranking member of the country’s security forces to break with Maduro since Guaidó called for [Operation Freedom].

Earlier…,National Security Adviser John Bolton said the Trump administration was waiting for three key officials — Maduro’s defense minister, the chief judge of the supreme court and the commander of Maduro’s presidential guard — to act on what he said were private pledges to remove the beleaguered Venezuelan leader.

Guaidó has said…he would release a list of top commanders supporting the uprising.

“The armed forces have taken the right decision,” said Guaidó. “With the support of the Venezuelan people and the backing of our constitution they are on the right side of history.”

The U.S. has learned Venezuela’s disputed president, Nicolas Maduro, was “ready” to leave the country amid protest violence and calls for his ouster — until Russia convinced him to stay, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox News on [April 30].

“He was ready to go,” Pompeo said… “He was diverted by the Russians.”

He did not give any further specifics on when this apparently took place. Pompeo also noted he wanted Maduro, whom he called a “thug,” to get back on that plane.

The U.S. and about 50 other nations have taken the position that Maduro’s re-election last year was marred by fraud and that he is not the legitimate president of Venezuela, a once prosperous nation that has the world’s largest proven oil reserves.

The U.S. government said about 20,000 Cuban troops and agents have been working in Venezuela to prop up Maduro’s government,..

Pompeo said the Cubans and Russians have been in direct opposition of Venezuela’s duly elected leader, Juan Guaido.

He noted that the 14 countries supporting Maduro were on the wrong side of history, and that rule of law and democracy must be restored.

“It’s time for Maduro to leave … and rebuild this once great economy,” Pompeo [said].

[President] Juan Guaidó urged Venezuelans to take to the streets for new mass protests on May 1.

In a video statement posted on social media [on April 30], Guaidó also urged the military to join with those clamoring for change in Venezuela.

Guaidó said he called for the uprising to restore Venezuela’s constitutional order, broken when Maduro was sworn in earlier this year for a second term following elections boycotted by the opposition and considered illegitimate by dozens of countries.

Protesters erected barricades of debris at several downtown intersections about 10 blocks from the presidential palace, but police in riot gear moved in quickly to clear the roads. Most shops and businesses were closed and the streets of the capital unusually quiet, as people huddled at home to await the outcome of the day’s drama.

In one dramatic incident during a chaotic day of violent street battles for a crowd that quickly swelled to a few thousand, several armored vehicles plowed into a group of anti-government demonstrators trying to storm the capital’s air base, hitting at least two protesters.

As Venezuela plunged into a dramatic televised scene of chaos and violence…President Trump warned he would impose a “full and complete embargo” and sanctions on Cuba if its troops do not cease operations in the ravaged South American nation.

The Trump administration also has worked to roll back Obama-era easing of Cold War sanctions on Cuba.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters Tuesday that Maduro had been on his way out of the country bound for Cuba, but that Russia told him to remain. Bolton, meanwhile, warned Russia against interfering.

The U.S. government said about 20,000 Cuban troops and agents have been working in Venezuela to prop up Maduro’s government, a figure disputed by Cuba.

That support had seemed to crack Tuesday with the launch of what the opposition was calling “Operation Freedom,” which began with the early-morning release of a short video of Guaido and Lopez alongside a few dozen national guardsmen urging people to “take to the streets.”

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-FL., denounced the actions by Venezuelan security forces, saying that “military and security leaders must realize they are and will be held responsible for this,” he said on Twitter.

“What we are seeing today in Venezuela is the will of the people to peacefully change the course of their country from one of despair to one of freedom and democracy,” Pompeo tweeted in an early reaction. “The U.S. stands with them.”

The president of the European Union’s Parliament, Antonio Tajani, came out as the strongest European voice in support of the opposition. In a tweet in Spanish, Tajani called the events “a historic moment for the return to democracy and freedom in Venezuela,” and described the release of activist Leopoldo López from house arrest as “great news.”

“Let’s go Venezuela free!” wrote Tajani, a prominent conservative leader.

All but four EU members endorsed the initial, Europe-wide call in February to back opposition leader Juan Guaidó when he appointed himself interim president.

The four who did not join the other EU members were Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Slovakia.

Comment: Matthew Continetti, editor in chief of the Washington Free Beacon, said on [April 30] that Russia was the “key player” in the Venezuelan crisis and that it showed no interest in following the 19th-century U.S. doctrine discouraging interference in Western nations’ affairs.

“I think Russia is the key player here,” Continetti on “Special Report.” “If you look at the Russian actions — from military flights to Venezuela, to inserting… these kind of non-uniformed paramilitary officers, to sending formal military advisers and assistance to Maduro,” he said.

Varldsinbordeskriget believes it may be time to reintroduce the Monroe Doctrine that in the 19th century was introduced by the United States to prevent interference in the Western hemisphere by European powers.

The American call for a full and complete embargo on Cuba seems appropriate. Cuba is very active in Venezuela and is organizing the so called collectivos, motor cycle gangs that roam the streets of Caracas to intimidate the Venezuela freedom fighters.

European nations should follow the lead of the Italian president of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani in supporting freedom in Venezuela. Since his election in 2017 Tajani is an important conservative voice in European politics.