Random Thoughts (Political Edition)

nomix

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In a way, it would be fascinating to be able to see a nuclear war unfold. However, it would be highly inpractical in the long run.

War is not something to be considered lightly, especially not a war to end the world. That said, war has its uses, and when overpopulation makes food the strategic commodity to have, I suppose we'll all have to reconsider our morals to get it. Oil is essensial for food production, but if all else fails, you can't eat oil. And you can farm without it, albeit less effectively. Once people start to see food stocks run short, war for food might seem a better option than war for oil ever was.

That is, however, far in the future. Maybe a century, more or less. But I have no doubt it will happen one day. The difference between a realistic threat and a theoretical threat is simple. The theoretical threat is in the future, if at all. But a lot of them are realistic, as long as you take a very long view.

That's what morals are for, anyway. Morals is something you maintain when you have the luxury of having them. A lot of people have trouble with accepting the moral rightness of playing with nature (for those who don't understand what I'm getting at, genetically modified food). They may not have that if playing with nature can feed more people. And if we need to do it.

What's this all about? You just called yourself a cynic. This, my friend, is cynisism. :p
 

Cobol74

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In a way, it would be fascinating to be able to see a nuclear war unfold. However, it would be highly inpractical in the long run.
And the FG award for the understatment of all time goes to. ... <Extended drum roll> .... more delay. ...

nomix

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MacGuffin

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In a way, it would be fascinating to be able to see a nuclear war unfold. However, it would be highly inpractical in the long run.

War is not something to be considered lightly, especially not a war to end the world. That said, war has its uses, and when overpopulation makes food the strategic commodity to have, I suppose we'll all have to reconsider our morals to get it. Oil is essensial for food production, but if all else fails, you can't eat oil. And you can farm without it, albeit less effectively. Once people start to see food stocks run short, war for food might seem a better option than war for oil ever was.

That is, however, far in the future. Maybe a century, more or less. But I have no doubt it will happen one day. The difference between a realistic threat and a theoretical threat is simple. The theoretical threat is in the future, if at all. But a lot of them are realistic, as long as you take a very long view.

That's what morals are for, anyway. Morals is something you maintain when you have the luxury of having them. A lot of people have trouble with accepting the moral rightness of playing with nature (for those who don't understand what I'm getting at, genetically modified food). They may not have that if playing with nature can feed more people. And if we need to do it.

What's this all about? You just called yourself a cynic. This, my friend, is cynisism. :p
History teaches us, that war we expect will never come. It's always the one we didn't expect :p
 

Cobol74

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I'll have a look at that some day. The point about NATO is that it harnesses the combined strength of some of the strongest military powers in the world with the strength of smaller powers. While we're not likely to see 12 000 T-72s roll through the Fulda gap anymore, just wait and see what happens when the Russian fleet is back on track and able to project real power. A mouse does not pick a fight with a bear. But Norway, as an example, has been able to stand taller with regards to Russia (and the Soviet Union in its time) because of NATO. Sweden had to militarise their society to such an extent it's silly, I'm not kidding, Sweden, 8 million people in Northern Europe, had (for instance) the 4th or 5th largest bloody airforce in the early 60s. Every single aspect of Swedish society was somehow linked to mobilisation and military readiness. It went far enough that a ferry skipper was fired because his dad was a communist in the 30s. It was ruinously expensive, and even today, Sweden is one of the most prolific makers of military hardware.

What NATO does is make defence cheaper. It would be much more expensive for Norway to maintain a proper defense if we had to deter invasion alone. Even detering a Swedish invasion would be expensive. As it is, we know Sweden won't dare invade Norway, since it would lead to a war with not just Norway, but NATO.

Yes, they're all teoretical threaths, but most threaths are.


Anectodal at best. Welfare isn't a perfect sollution, but at times, it's the only sollution. Powerty in the industrialized world is not the same as powerty in the third world. Being poor in Kenya means you'll struggle to provide your kids with food and access to basic education. Powerty in the United Kingdom might be not being able to provide your kids with healthy food (as pre-fabricated crap full of transfats is usually cheap as hell), and struggling to even come near being able to help them with tuition fees for higher education. It's the old unfairness of any society. You can't choose your parents, who your parents are is not your fault, but your life is heavily influenced by it. It means that a kid from a poor family is less likely to get a place at a good university, even if he's smart as hell.

That makes society more stupid.


You'll always find parts of a budget that could be diversed to different parts of the budget. It's true of any budget for any department of any government. But at least they're trying. We don't always know what'll work and what won't. Sometimes a program falls flat on its face even though pilot trials worked swell, and sometimes it does work. You've got a problem, look for sollutions. It's no different than programming a video switcher to let someone use an iPad for his presentation. You have to try until you find something that works. Many attempts do fail, but it doesn't matter all that much as long as you've solved the problem at the end of the day.


Here's a reason: Even after the cold war, you need to plan for teoretical threaths. And it's cheaper to deter a teoretical threath when you're united, much cheaper.


Governments can do a lot of complicated things. As you say yourself, this wasn't complicated. They just cocked it up.

The problem is democracy. I know it sounds bad, but it is. Look, for instance, at how increadibly ineffective the US house of representatives is. Two year terms means they're always campaigning, and never have breathing space to actually make things work the best way they can work. They have to please so many special interest groups and voter groups at every moment of the day to do anything substantive.

However, as I believe Winston Spencer Churchill once said, and I'm paraphrasing; "democracy is a poor system of government, but it's the best we have".
I agree that democracy is the only form of government that seems to work really, I am not anti democracy just want people to recognise the fact that (Ukanian in particular) governments have been very dim of late; and have been passing laws/starting programmes for the wrong reasons, or passing badly drafted laws, or even not thinking through the consequences (Hidden and bloody obvious) of the laws/programmes that they launch.
 

argatoga

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Democracy only works if the people want it. Hence why Libya has become a hell hole far worse than it was under Gaddafi.
 

Dr_Grip

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Democracy only works if the people want it. Hence why Libya has become a hell hole far worse than it was under Gaddafi.
There's another problem factoring in there, as well: "The West" (in quotes as it is a broad name for a bunch of nations with different agendas) still seems to believe that a liberal (as in "John Rawls", not as in "American left") parliamentary democracy and free-market captalism is what all people who want to topple their autocratic governments want. It seems to be beyond the grasp of most of our leaders that some people might not want a western-style democracy but something entirely different.

Additionally, it teaches the emerging societies of the "arab spring" a nice lesson in western double standards how every remotely religions movement is branded an "islamist party" by the west. Most of these parties have a "islamist" agenda that's not too different from the agenda of the christian right that dominates or is at least prominently represented in the conservative parties in most if not all western nations.
 

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There's another problem factoring in there, as well: "The West" (in quotes as it is a broad name for a bunch of nations with different agendas) still seems to believe that a liberal (as in "John Rawls", not as in "American left") parliamentary democracy and free-market captalism is what all people who want to topple their autocratic governments want. It seems to be beyond the grasp of most of our leaders that some people might not want a western-style democracy but something entirely different.
That's because deeply inside, we westeners tend to see the third world as former colonies and underdeveloped societies even until today. The average European or American mind cannot cope, that people would indeed prefer a different lifestyle than ours, if given the choice, and rather be independent, than completely dependent from us.

Additionally, it teaches the emerging societies of the "arab spring" a nice lesson in western double standards how every remotely religions movement is branded an "islamist party" by the west. Most of these parties have a "islamist" agenda that's not too different from the agenda of the christian right that dominates or is at least prominently represented in the conservative parties in most if not all western nations.
Hey, it's not new. It's called geostrategic interests and is a short form of "How do we bend the world to our own needs at any cost?". The USA has become very good at that. And when third-world-countries have natural resources the West needs, the West will let go of its principles and try dominating and lecturing them, so that there will be a West-friendly regime at the end.

Only problem is, that now there are the Chinese, too. And they don't bother with principles or influence and they don't care about human rights and a just society. They simply offer money and get what they want in return. If you ask me, that is the better exploitation strategy.

The exploitation of the Third World will go on, as long as we need their resources for our lifestyle. And even you and me are joining in the game, because all our lifestyles depends on cheap imports from the Third World - no matter, if you are a green eco-mentalist or a rightwing capitalist. There is only one thing we can do: Being happy for being born in the right place.
 
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Dr_Grip

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That's because deeply inside, we westeners tend to see the third world as former colonies and underdeveloped societies even until today. The average European or American mind cannot cope, that people would indeed prefer a different lifestyle than ours, if given the choice, and rather be independent, than completely dependent from us.
[...]

Only problem is, that now there are the Chinese, too. And they don't bother with principles or influence and they don't care about human rights and a just society.
"Human rights" are one of these western concepts that we try to impose over other people as well. You say "they don't care about human rights" as if it would be self-evident that it would be morally better if they would. It is not.

At the same time, eventhough you correctly pointed out geostrategic interests and exploitation, you seem to imply that our western governments would give a shit about human rights. Most of the time, they don't.
 

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I meant, that not caring about human rights is a strategic advantage for the Chinese, because it's easier for them to get arrangements with dictatorships. And I am aware, that there is a lot of double standards in Western politics, especially since they constantly want to be seen as the "good guys".
 

nomix

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And the FG award for the understatment of all time goes to. ... <Extended drum roll> .... more delay. ...

nomix

Whistles and loud applause.
I regard that as a great honor.

History teaches us, that war we expect will never come. It's always the one we didn't expect :p
"If there is ever another great war in Europe, it will be over some damn silly thing in the Balkans."
- Otto von Bismarck, paraphrazed from memory.

I agree that democracy is the only form of government that seems to work really, I am not anti democracy just want people to recognise the fact that (Ukanian in particular) governments have been very dim of late; and have been passing laws/starting programmes for the wrong reasons, or passing badly drafted laws, or even not thinking through the consequences (Hidden and bloody obvious) of the laws/programmes that they launch.
The problem, I find, is that politicians don't think long term anymore. Say what you want about Attlee and his generation of social democrats in Europe, but they planned ahead, and by just getting reelected again and again (at least in Scandinavia, Golda Meir once said she envyed Norway, because Norway didn't have elections, but re-elctions), they achieved a result, they were able to transform the countries they ran. In Norway, it was on the coat tails of Gerhardsen, while Erlander did it in Sweden. And of course, Attlee in Britian. Nationalized health services, social equality and social mobility, just to mention a few.

The Labour party ran Norway from 1945 to 1963 without a break. In 18 years, you're able to do something. You're able to plan ahead and remake a nation. Today's voter won't wait, today's voter expects change overnight, and as a result, the voter of today will always be dissapointed.
 

nomix

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I seriously doubt New York has jurisdiction over the internet.
 

GRtak

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It just goes to show how out of touch some people are...


The real sad thing is they somehow got elected to office.
 

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"One the one side, an easy-going justice in a venal and relaxed democracy; on the other, a popular-political-military dictatorship, relatively pure, always hard, and, when necessary, cruel...One replies to war gas with war gas, to "strategic" bombing with "strategic" bombing, to the atomic bomb with the atomic bomb; otherwise one gives up hope of winning and goes home." - Colonel Charles Lacheroy

"It is necessary that all forms of complicity, including those of abstention and silence, be rendered impossible or treated, in the same manner as the crime of treason, by special courts and an expeditious procedure" - Colonel Charles Lacheroy
Lacheroy, an officer in the French Army who participated in the Indochinese and Algerian conflicts and later in the attempted coup d'?tat against de Gaulle, argued that to defeat an enemy like the Viet Minh and FLN one had to meet them on their own terms. The restraints of liberal democracy had to be temporarily abandoned and totalitarian tactics be adopted because, with respect to the two conflicts mentioned above, to defeat a totalitarian enemy one had to use their tactics against them.

The Algerian War and the history of France in general from the end of WWII to the 1960s makes fascinating reading. As I mentioned previously I am reading The French Army in Politics: 1945-1962 by John Steward Ambler and the text highlights just how complicated politics and the relationship between the military and the government were in France during the post war period, ultimately accumulating in the Algiers putsch of 1961. The Algerian War in particular was unique and unlike the conflict in Indochina/Vietnam due to the extra dimension of a large number of civilian colonists. Unlike most other colonial powers France had actually colonized some of its acquired territories. French Algeria was a department of France and literally part of the country.
 

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Oh, there's nothing better than getting up and reading "realist" bullshit claiming you can't win a war against a totalitarian enemy fighting well, that is, according to the rules of engagement*.

Rules of war have been there, not only in western society but in all cultures that do or did organized warfare, as far back as historians can look. The vast majority of career military, both in enlisted and officer's ranks, strongly supports adherence to the rules of war.

It is only wannabe "tough guys" in research and sad little online heroes (and, admittedly, the odd Kissingerian politician) who claim that one has to do away with whatever humanity is left in warfare in order to succeed.

Bullshit. There's a difference between war and massacre, and most people involved in the business of warfare know that damn well. That some colonialist Frenchman disagrees does not change this. Heck, even in the "targeted killing/kill the towelhead" atmosphere that dominates the U.S. debate right now, more moderate voices come out of the military than from politics.


*Even if there were some executions of POWs World War II was largely fought as a clean, rule-abiding law by the Allies. Nevertheless, they managed to win against the Nazis. I will not count the "terror bombing" of German cities as a clear-cut case of a war crime as an argument can be made that it was done as a reprisal for the Blitz, in which case the judgment depends on one's position on reprisals. I personally would condemn them, but it's an open debate both in international law and moral philosophy.
 
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nomix

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Heck, even in the "targeted killing/kill the towelhead" atmosphere that dominates the U.S. debate right now, more moderate voices come out of the military than from politics.
That's because most military voices that carry weight in Washington are one stars and above. And I do get the feeling most people above one star have seen some sort of front line service. And that means they've seen what happens when people die a cruel and horrible death. They know who is going to have to do the dirty work, and they care more about their beloved servicemen and women than they care about bloated hawk politicians in Congress.
 

argatoga

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I wouldn't consider Kissingerian someone to look up to, being as his great success was prolonging in the Vietnam war in the North's favor, and making Cambodia a massive clusterfuck.
 
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nomix

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The war in Indochina/Vietnam was America's answer to Israel's Lebanon. While Israel basically made Hezbollah after their 1982 invasion, the United States basically created the Khmer Rogue by bombing Cambodia, and ony strengthened the VC by being assholes in Vietnam. I would hazard to guess the general Vietnamese farmer was rather apolitical. By being assholes, the United States made them fierce enemies. When Israel entered Lebanon in 1982, the IDF was welcomed as liberators by the Shia muslims in the South. After all, the PLO had acted like bloody gangsters and a bunch of bullies. Had Israel played her cards right, they might have come away from Lebanon with a great victory. By trying to use the same tactic they'd used on the West Bank in 1967-69 (the "Hard hand" as it was dubbed), they managed to construct the situation and reality needed to make a radical islamic group like Hezbollah possible. Israel's invasion of Lebanon was a tactical victory, much like Japan's victory at Pearl Harbour. But while the invasion went well, the occupation was an unmitigated disaster.

I'll agree that creating Hezbollah by mistake wasn't exactly as idiotic as creating, funding and arming Hamas to fuck up the PLO in the 80s, but it was still a superb example of gross incomentance.

Sorry for the digression, but I'm a little drunk.
 

argatoga

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I hate reading the news. So when are we going to invade Iran?
 
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