Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: This time it's Syria

224 Responses

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  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    Veni, vici, delinqui.

    Oh, I thought it was something much more mundane sounding, like "British Empire".

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    4 miles. :-P

    I love randomness!!!

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1590 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Rob S,

    Raj against the machine...

    Maybe they shouldn’t have been there in the first place?

    But... but... where else would they grow their coffee, cotton, sugar, tea... and opium... so cheaply?

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7950 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I was 64 miles away, which I thought was okay on such a small map.

    You can zoom in a bit but that's sort of cheating ;-) I'm still wondering how someone thought it was in Greenland...

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2935 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    So the UK parliament has refused to assent to UK miitary action. That’s pretty unprecedented.

    First time since Crimea, apparently.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2935 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    78 miles. That map is way too small and clicking on the most accurate spot you can way too fiddly.

    See zoom response above. I managed to nuke Aleppo, but that's 178 miles away.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2935 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Rob Coup,

    Whether they did or not, there wasn’t much left of Britain after WW2. They were flat broke, their economy had been converted almost entirely to war effort, and they were dependent on US loans for everything. India wanted independence and the UK wasn’t in a position to say no, so it happened.

    And it might also be relevant that they'd gotten a pretty clear message to fuck off, and stop treating India as their "problem" to fix. You know, it's really easy to put the messy, complicated world to rights from the comfortable distance of decades and/or thousands of miles, but it's also just a teeny tad obnoxious. At least, we seem to think so when we're on the receiving end of unsolicited and ill-informed experts from Foggy Bottom and Whitehall.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Rob S, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    I don't think one can really apply today's standards to the 17th century

    Not trying to apply current standards at all.
    However looking at past actions can inform future ones.
    When doing this judgements will always be made regarding previous actions.
    Yes, the past is a foreign country but it can still be studied.
    Those who don't remember the past are condemned to repeat it or something along those lines.

    Since Apr 2010 • 136 posts Report Reply

  • Howard Edwards, in reply to Euan Mason,

    Ban frivolous vetoing - perhaps the UN could adopt a system like tennis and cricket where you can only use three vetoes per year?

    Albany • Since Apr 2013 • 66 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Howard Edwards,

    Ban frivolous vetoing – perhaps the UN could adopt a system like tennis and cricket where you can only use three vetoes per year?

    Or just do one of:
    a) dispense with the permanent member concept entirely;
    b) dispense with the permanent members having veto.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Howard Edwards,

    Ban frivolous vetoing

    The permanent members don't seem to use their vetos terribly often. They seem to be more often held up as a threat, a kind of nuclear option to encourage negotiations to head in a more preferable direction. Even so, abstentions seem to happen far more often than vetos.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    I think the idea is that it's rather better that they have the "nuclear option" of a veto than the actual "nuclear option".

    While it's not the greatest of systems, it has thus far stopped an American army slugging it out with a Russian one, and the loser deciding to blow up the world.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Russell Brown,

    If you live south of about Kaikoura you can't even enter your home location - bloody northern hemispherians trying to teach us geography...

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    I think the idea is that it’s rather better that they have the “nuclear option” of a veto than the actual “nuclear option”.

    I certainly don't disagree with that.

    But you're going to have to work hard to persuade me that the Security Council setup is what stopped the US and USSR from blowing us all up - they came awfully close to it in 1962. It reminds me of arguments I've heard from an ex-USMC enlisted man that MAD stopped the US and USSR going to war. Maybe directly, but they certainly did seem to enjoy a good proxy war.

    As for northern hemispherians, they are a bit weird with geography. They seem to think the world ends at the equator. And I say that as one married to a northern hemispherian.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    The permanent members don’t seem to use their vetos terribly often. They seem to be more often held up as a threat, a kind of nuclear option to encourage negotiations to head in a more preferable direction. Even so, abstentions seem to happen far more often than vetos.

    If they restricted their vetoes entirely to matters within their own borders it wouldn't be quite so objectionable; but they don't. Instead we're left with the Russians protecting Syria (currently) and the US protecting Israel (the majority of vetoes ever cast are the US protecting Israel). It's not stopping them going to war with each other, it's stopping everyone else from punishing their favourite client states.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    they certainly did seem to enjoy a good proxy war

    Right, but the US was restrained from marching into North Vietnam and Russia similarly from entering Pakistan by the likelihood that they'd wind up with a direct US/USSR conflict. It's all hypothetical, but how would Cuba have played out without nukes - the US invading Cuba to end Castro's revolution, emboldening Russia to seize West Berlin?

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    the US invading Cuba to end Castro’s revolution

    Tried that in '61, didn't work out too well (Of course, using proxies again, but even so... ), and it didn't spark any kind of Soviet march on West Berlin, not even a subtle encouragement of the GDR to have a go. Then again, West Berlin was the British, French and US sectors, and remained so until reunification. Then (yet) again, that didn't stop the Soviets from blockading West Berlin....

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh,

    Sam Crane applies Sunzi to Syria. Now I should think about lunch...

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    It’s crappy that the superpowers use their vetoes frequently in the UN, but the UN would possibly not exist if they didn’t have those powers. It is limited to the superpowers because when veto power is available to all states, as it was in the League of Nations, then it becomes completely impossible to resolve any disputes at all.

    As to getting rid of the veto power, I expect any such move will always be vetoed.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to BenWilson,

    the superpowers use their vetoes frequently in the UN

    The average over the last decade is about two per year (from here), which isn't overly crazy. Mostly it's the US protecting Israel from the consequences of its criminal behaviour, though Russia and China have been knocking back resolutions on Syria a bit of late.

    What they do do is threaten to use them, so things just don't come up for a vote, which also skews the numbers.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg, in reply to Rob S,

    our man Mountbatten wanted to get out as quickly as possible at minimal cost and loss of face presumably.

    That was pretty much his job description when he took it.

    When the British left Aden the last governor had to back up the rear stairs to the RAF Britannia with his pistol out as the aircraft was readied for take-off.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    What they do do is threaten to use them, so things just don’t come up for a vote, which also skews the numbers.

    It comes to the same thing, really. That's "using your veto to block something".

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Russell Brown,

    On a lighter note, you can test yourself against the rest of the internet in this find Damascus on a map game.

    I was 64 miles away, which I thought was okay on such a small map.

    You know you can zoom, right? Also, I was pleased just to hit Syria. I can, however, do simple maths under pressure :-)

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3215 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    In today's really dispiriting news, all but one of the activists who took the video of the aftermath of the chemical attack have died from the exposure. I can't help but think of them as journalists killed on the job.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    And now we have this wee bombshell:

    The U.S. government may be considering military action in response to chemical strikes near Damascus. But a generation ago, America's military and intelligence communities knew about and did nothing to stop a series of nerve gas attacks far more devastating than anything Syria has seen, Foreign Policy has learned.

    (h/t Jet Jaguar)

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

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