Tuesday 22 January 2008

We will all go together when we go....

Over the past week, Pennyred has been investigating employment law, the minimum wage, disability living allowance reforms (DLA) and other such thrilling indictments on the State of the Union. This was intended as a nice, gentle, sweet-and-teenage proto-socialist rant. I was planning to use the tricolon a lot and perhaps even put in some swears for extra emphasis.

This piece of news
, however, was tucked away in the middle section of the Grauniad today, right under 'Government Proposes Cookery Courses For Fat Children - Jaimie Oliver Declared Home Secretary'. Not to worry you at all, but we (and by 'we' I mean the West, that ultimate 'US' that the UK continues to buy its way into with senseless and brutal defence over-spending) appear to be on the brink of doling out screaming fiery death to millions in the Third World, shortly before succumbing to said fiery death ourselves.

Read it. Then read it again, and see if you can make any logical sense out of what the NATO commission is saying, because god knows I can't. We have to consider pre-emptive attacks (on powers whose allies already have nuclear missiles!) because of:

. Political fanaticism and religious fundamentalism. (Are they suggesting we nuke middle America, then? No, didn't think so.)

· The "dark side" of globalisation, meaning international terrorism, organised crime and the spread of weapons of mass destruction. (We tried that. We've been trying that for five years, and it hasn't worked so far. What the Afghans have in the west's conception of 'weapons of mass destruction' amounts to a few really BIG rocks, and they're still kicking our collective arses. Sorry.)

· Climate change and energy security, entailing a contest for resources and potential "environmental" migration on a mass scale. (Great. So rather than make major systemic changes to the way we're currently destroying our planet, we'll just kill everyone else so that we can have all the oil and water for ourselves and so those filthy poor people in other countries won't come over here begging. Right.)

There used to be a name for this. It was 'Mutually Assured Destruction' (MAD).

So NATO is getting pissy because a bunch of peasants in the gulf are giving them a right kicking, because its member states' (i.e.u.s.a) grip on global resources is threatened, and because it's being humiliated on the world stage by its own ill-conceived attempts to bully the Gulf into submission. Now it wants to whap its big, shiny, fission-powered dick on the table and show the whole world Who Da Man.

This dispute could easily be solved by gathering key heads of state and military leaders in a small (preferably very cold) room and commanding them to unzip. Whip 'em out, boys! We have nothing to lose but our dreams, our loved ones and our lives!


  1. Nuclear deterrence != MAD. MAD is the specific doctrine whereby, well, destruction is mutually assured, ie if one bomb is fired then everybody dies. Sounds crazy, sure, but we're all still here, aren't we? Unfortunately, it assumes that your opponent doesn't want to die.

  2. You'll find that a lot of this is controversial within NATO - note that the authors of the document are mostly retired, and probably still thinking in Cold War terms, hence the emphasis on nuclear deterrence. They're probably the same people who think we should still be building aircraft carriers. I'd be interested to hear, say, Wes Clark or Rupert Smith's take on it. But for now, it's not an official NATO statement of policy or anything, just five (albeit highly senior) guys' opinions.

    On the other hand, a lot of what they say sounds pretty sensible, particularly on streamlined command-and-control procedures: I'm kinda surprised we're not already doing that, actually. And I for one am seriously heartened that climate change is being taken seriously as a security issue at this level. Of course, climate change is much more than that - it's an economic, scientific, technological and above all moral issue - but it's a security issue too. These guys are trained and paid to worry about security issues (and aren't empowered to deal with non-security issues), and it's good to see that they're doing it properly. I don't know of any other branch of government that's treating climate change with due seriousness. Hopefully this'll kick the politicians into actually doing something to minimise the impacts of climate change before we get swamped by hordes of highly-armed and fanatical starveling refugees.

    As for Afghanistan: bear in mind that the Afghans are a warrior nation, inhabiting some of the most defensible territory on the planet, and counterinsurgency is in general really, really hard. Heavy weapons are pretty much irrelevant in that scenario.

  3. First, yes these guys are retired from active service, but they're still working in and for NATO - at least one of them was an adviser to Clinton, as well. They're very much post cold-war, even if that were an excuse for such reckless hawk intelligence.

    And what you say about Afghanistan's defence capabilities is is exactly my point about the Afghans. They know how to use their territory - therefore, we LOST. Go cry, emo hawk. Instead, however, the playground bullies just won't accept defeat.

    I'm also hugely against this idea of streamlined command-and-consensus if that means one guy with his finger on the big, red button making all the decisions. It's areas like this where a vetting process is MOST important.

    And yes, climate control should be taken seriously - but it should be treated as something other than a military issue before it gets to the top.

  4. Finally, you deign to reply to one of my comments :-) Shame you only did so to call me an emo hawk, whatever that means.

    There's a distinction here between the political decision to go to war (which should be getting considerably more vetting than it currently does, starting with, say, some actual debate in Parliament), and the military decisions which must be taken once war starts, which should be as slick as possible. Cos, y'know, indecision costs lives. It's command and control not command and consensus. Now, I'd thought that they were talking about the second type of decision making, whereas you seem to have assumed they were talking about the first: re-re-reading the article, I see that it's not as clear as I'd thought. I'm not entirely convinced that majority voting would be a bad thing at the political level (it would allow for speedier action in humanitarian crises), but yes, there's reason for caution there.

    Post Cold-War: sure, they served after the Cold War, but most of their training and service, when their opinions were formed, would have been during the Cold War.

    Climate change as a non-military issue: no argument here. But it is also a military issue, and it's good to see it's being considered so seriously. It would be much, much better to see serious and concerted action to avert the worst effects of climate change from non-military sources, of course.


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