Thursday, December 8, 2011

[Politics] A comment on the last post

This is a comment on the last post that grew pretty long. This is not about MMOs.

On Iran
I agree that it would be ridiculous for Iran to nuke holy sites in Israel and the speech was, of course, not perfectly translated. That having said, my scenario doesn't include Iran using the bomb. I don't think they really would. The problem is Israel using it out of pure fear - panic. This fear is created by Iranian politicians who try to use fear to their own advantage inside the Iranian politics. Also, any nuclear bomb would be preceded by a conventional attack.

Nobody wants to start a war - ever. Wars get started out of fear, misunderstandings, and because every single escalating step seemed perfectly reasonable at the time. And at some point it seems that the enemy will strike first and you just can't take that risk.
Imagine what Iran would say about Israel after a massive conventional attack on its soil? Then imagine Israel's fear if that attack failed to destroy the nuclear capabilities while Hezbollah rockets rain down on its people! Remember the US reaction to Pearl Habor or 9/11. If societies feel under direct attack they can go nuts!

On whether Iran is actually developing a nuclear weapon: I believe Joschka Fischer in this case. He was German foreign minister during the second Iraq war. He had this more or less famous speech in the UN where he told the US that he is not convinced about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction and that's why Germany doesn't want a part of this war. We stayed out - luckily.
He now says that Iran according to his conviction does develop a nuclear weapon or at least wants to come into a position that any Iranian leadership can order the construction of one in the near term.

On Russia.
I'm pretty much a idealist there. If the Russian people want less corruption (=a better democracy with accountable politicians) then I wish them the best. However, the Russians (as a nation) need to understand that the past is the past. The USSR wasn't a superpower because of its military. It was a superpower because of an ideology. Many countries wanted to be like the USSR. Because the USSR wasn't always as weak as it appears today. There was a time when it was pretty successful economically and culturally - or at least appeared like it.

This started to fall apart with the construction of the Berlin Wall. Until then there were, in fact, people who moved to Eastern Germany to be part of the promise of communism. People weren't as certain as they are today that a more just world is impossible.

Russia can't be strong with weapons alone. It only turns you into the Bully on the schoolyard. And there are bigger Bullies around. Russia has about 140 mio people - many of them distributed over an incredible land mass. In this age such a country cannot compete with China (1350 mio) or India (1200 mio) or the EU (500 mio), the US (300 mio) or even Brazil (200 mio). Sure, Russia can destroy the planet, but so can others. Using military power to gain respect only causes fear and other countries to make alliances against you.

If Russia wants to raise to power again, it first needs to tend to itself (like the Arab states do right now). Get rid of the corruption. Make other countries want to be like you. Make people want to move to Russia because "in Russia you can have a better life". This is the only way to influence and power as a country.

I slowly understand the US problem. You appear like a smart guy. And still you have convictions that are so far removed from what I believe to be true that it's just impossible to even start to argue.


  1. Hmm Nils, wars are started for a great many reasons more than fear, too. Hitler didn't start a war out of fear - war was always going to be a tool for expansion. economic power, expansion, money and resources have been reasons enough for many wars in history. there's a very pragmatic and calculated side to starting a war (at least behind official curtains). I think that falls a little short in your opening.

    as for Iran; difficult. the thing that makes me believe they have the bomb is that the US never dared to actually attack. when the whole Osama hunt started, the US gov was quick on the ball to proclaim their 'axis of evil', yet they stayed well away from ever attacking a country that might actually cause them real issues (it's not really an "equal war" against a place like afghanistan).
    people are joking here that "the americans only ever attack countries that don't have the bomb" and Iran or North Korea might just be the proof of that. the USA know a war against Iran would be a disaster and potentially take forever (while they're neither economically fit nor well-bestowed on allies).

    all that being said, whether they have the bomb or not, there's one issue that's always irked me about the discussion frankly, one that has been questioned by Ahmadinedschad himself continuously: "if you all have it, why shouldn't we?" personally, I find it rather cynical (phony and reckless) to ask someone else to stop doing what you're doing yourself. A. might be a provocative asshole, but he's putting the finger on western arrogance quite well. and iran has plenty of arrogance itself. :)

  2. Nils, I'm almost at a loss of words, but not really. :) I like to think that I'm more informed then the average US citizen. At least I can name every politician, most cabinet members and am aware of policy issues that impact me and my family. I'm not good at knowing what Snookie or Kim K. is doing, but instead I watch the political debates.

    But I'm also from the US and that impacts how I approach and think about things. I was going to be a physicist (but had trouble with some of the math) so setteld for a trade (accounting with some law) and then went into computer programming and design.

    The history and psychological makeup of the US is different from most places in the world. (Austrialia probaly comes closest to the US). For the most part US citizens don't care about the rest of the world. But if we percieve that someone pissed on our leg we go bonkers. I'm not defending it, I'm just saying what it is.

    But even the US is going through an internal struggle that will only get worse. Basically, most people in the US are kinda lazy and want to be left alone. But at a level of comfort that they got used to and that made them lazy. And this will present the world with problems, especially if resources continue to get scarse.

    And like it or not that means the US will be involved in world affairs even if the average citizen doesn't care about those very same world affairs.

  3. Syl, if war doesn't affect the wider population, but is only a game for monarchs, things are different. Luckily that isn't the case for nowadays nations anymore. Hitler's and Germany's reasons for war (other than that everything was a terrible mistake and Hitler was a lunatic ..) are impossible to discuss as a German. I try to leave fair judgment to others.

    Iran doesn't have the bomb right now. Go read my links above or do any research on the topic. The reason the US is not attacking are many and different.

    On the "justice" of every nation having a nuclear bomb. I am afraid this is the wonderful grey area that we love in computer games so much. I agree that it seems 'unfair' that some nations have nuclear bombs and others do not. But a world with many people who can command over the death of whole megacities (don't believe for a second that modern nukes are as "weak" as the ones that hit Hiroshima or Nagasaki!) is a much worse world.

    Sometimes the right thing to do is not the fair one. It's hard to swallow, but it's just true. Even if you were the US president and wanted to disarm ally our country's nuclear weapons: you can't. What you can do is prevent more countries from developing nuclear weapons.

    Goodmongo. I think the look outside would be an important thing to do for the US. There are 6700 mio other humans on this planet and they tend to have a very independent view on your country. Go read some China Daily, Spiegel Online , or even BBC . Hell, the best news program right now is actually Aljazeera English if you ask me.

  4. It's precisely because we don't have competing ideology nowadays we wouldn't return to status of Russian Superpower.

    It had a lot of nice parts, but the cost was a bit too high overall. Now we would only unite using trade ties and common good while looking for our profits. We have built pipelines going into Germany (North Stream) and China for that reason, and we intend to keep our obligations fulfilled while expanding our ties where it benefits both sides.

    Buying out whatever technology we're allowed our hands on in this economic crisis using our hard cash reserves is preferable! We were quite sad when GM decided to not sell us Opel against their best interests - it kept giving them huge losses all those years. One of many disappointments in "free market" :)

    Military conflict is highly unlikely, but we like to keep balance in check so that even thought of starting open conflict will remain firmly in "lunatic" territory. Looking at many countries bombed in this decade it still doesn't look like idle threat. If we have to rise our military to be up to that task, we'll do what must be done. We've had enough "talks" about things not being against us while our concerns are ignored, so we have to ignore talks and respond to actual actions instead. "Good word and a gun is better then just a good word". Nukes are there to stay, and we'll get countermeasures for any countermeasures, imagined or not. "Deal with it".jpg :)

    We would very much like to see last remaining Superpower fall, however, and return to multi-polar world of more-or-less equal actors - the point all our presidents maintained (the multi-polar world part, not US fall - obviously that wouldn't be too good for foreign relations, but you can't have one without another). We feel it would be much more fair and safer for everyone really. Hopefully this crisis will finally make our dream come true. US will come down, we'll come up, and we'll meet in the middle as equals again :)

  5. Because the USSR wasn't always as weak as it appears today.

    I would motion for a rephrase. The USSR was always weak, it just had really good PR. Even Stalin knew of glaring faults inside of the system, but choice assassinations and fear keeping 'the star systems in line' won the day. Historians that I've read recount the reign as having hung on by a string, but no one knew it save for very key leaders within the government. The main historian I frequent is actually a Russian immigrant (unsure if he has publications, I'll check), which I feel lends credence to the statement.

    JFK... worst US president in history for this very topic. He had the intelligence that the USSR had only 6 nukes at a time when he could have effectively shut down the Cold War. The one who acted on intelligence and called his bluff came in the form of Reagan alongside his galpal Mrs. Thatcher. We (key leaders of western society) knew the extent of the bluff, but politics allowed the image to be perpetuated.

    Rhetoric: if the USSR was such a [legitimate] superpower, why did they need to build a wall to keep people IN?

  6. Wow Ahtchu, just Wow!

    If it was JFK who was responsible for six nukes less on Western Europe and, probably more important, not the red army all over the place, then he's my hero. Let alone countless nukes on Russians who are, believe it or not, actually humans.

    In fact, I am not an expert, but I think this story that Reagan somehow ruined the USSR economy by increasing military spending is not exactly convincing. USSR at that time had more nukes than USA - and more than they needed to destroy the planet. How can military spending at that point really make a difference (except for in conventional proxy wars like Afghanistan / Vietnam which are ultimately irrelevant).

    Of course, the Berlin Wall was the ultimate proof of inferiority.

  7. Nils, JFK was bad because he acted inferior during his intital dealing with Russia. So weakness was projected (Same with Obama today). This lead to the Cuban missle crises where Russia and Cuba just knew that JFK would fold. When he didn't it escalated things to the brink.

    This then lead to Vietnam in no small way. Both sides had to prove something so fought there.

    Reagan on the other hand came in calling Russia the Evil Empire and playing high the cowboy personna. When he finally got together with Gorbachev both sides knew that the time was right to negotiate. Reagan proved that he was willing to spend whatever and do whatever it took. Gorbachev knowing that he would lose this pissing contest decided to sign SALT 2 and START treaties.

    It is always better to negotiate from a position of strength or at least convince the other side that you mean business.

    If we really wanted to prevent Iran from getting a nuke the US could. Just pass a US law that says the banks can't deal with anyone or anything that associates with Iranian banks. Customers (including China) now have to decide if the no US markets are worth Iranian nukes. The rest of the world will scream (Russia and China especially) but it can be done simply enough.

  8. If you negotiate from a position of strength your opponent necessarily negotiates from a position of weakness. Consequently, if a strong position is good for peace then so is a weak position.

    Actually, USSR broke down due to internal problems. USA didn't really need to do much and didn't do much. That having said, the older Bush, just as Soviet and Western European leaders managed the crisis extremely well. Who would have thought that the cold war ends completely peacefully? For 99% of its duration: nobody. My highest respect go to Russia who lost "the game" without turning the world into ash. Would USA have done that? Reading your comments I doubt that.

    The only mistake that was done is that Russia followed a radical free-market ideology for the next decade that is responsible for the current situation. The problem of the US is, and often was in the past, that it doesn't know the secret of its own success.
    USA didn't win the cold war because it had a strong military (arguably it had not!). It won because it convinced people all around the world that to be like the US is desirable. Since the cold war ended, the USA successfully sabotages this image and so it is no surprise that the USA is about to lose its superpower status. Nobody wants to be like a country that kills and tortures at will - even its own citizen!

    Strength is often good in the short run. But if you don't lead by example, you don't lead at all in the long run. US lost the moral high ground in the last two decades. This, like nothing else, harms its long-term interests.

  9. Nils the flaw with your first point is assuming both sides are honorable. All too often history shows this is not the case. In these situations the stronger side MUST be the honorable side else it never works (Molotov-Ribbentrop pact).

    But for argument sake lets say the US lost and Russia was honorable. I can guarantee you that the vast majority in the US wouldn't have done anything. We would just have went all isolationist as is our history. We would say FU to the rest of the world and pull entirely within our borders. The ending was bloodless and that is the key. Now if Russia took Alaska as part of the deal then I gree the world would glow.

    The US won the cold war based on a complex equation that impacted economics. Russia was trying hard to stay current (even trying to get an aircraft carrier), but couldn't afford that and civilian goods. So the US was showing the world that it had the power to spend dollars on military and have a nice economic life.

    But that was then and now things are different. In the US there are strong feelings to forget being the policeman of the world. Let Europe and other coutnries defend themselves. If its in our national interest we fight otherwise to heck with it.

    And one thing that most people forget is how do you handle a bully. Lets say you are being hit by someone. That person also takes your things. In a civilized society you call the cops and report the crimes. But what if there are no cops to call?

    You either take it or fight back. There are no other choices. So before begging for the US to lose superpower staus ask who that cop will be. And if you think you won't need a cop then history says you are dilusional.

    Finally, the US is in decline but it might take 200 years for the US to lose superpower status. Or a plague or world war. Just look at all other world superpowers like Great Briton or Rome (and no Russia was NOT really one).

  10. I don't beg for the end of the US policeman. I know, Russia does. But that's an inferiority complex. I think it is great if one nation accepts this burden.

    But you can't bear that burden if you lose the moral high ground. The Egyptian revolutionaries don't listen to the US because they don't trust the US. 20 years ago this would have been different.

    In the beginning of the cold war there were strong parties in Western Europe who wanted to join or at least support the USSR. This ended with the Berlin Wall. A wall that was the ultimate symbol of military strength - and moral weakness.

    The Germans completely joined the West during the cold war because you showed mercy and generosity when you allowed us to keep our independence after the second world war. You won the hearts and minds of the German people. Don't forget the Berlin Airlift.
    But in the aftermath of 9/11 you started to torture and even tried to justify it. Then you effectively killed a hundred thousand Iraq civilians. They didn't even have those weapons of mass destruction. And you don't even have the decency to apologize.

    At least you still have a free press that can make jokes about your latest law to keep even your own citizen in prison indefinitely just because they might be a 'terrorist'. If Russia passed this law Mrs. Clinton would condemn it.

  11. The US has a lot of bad, but it also has a lot of good.

    As for torture there is a big internal debate going on. Same for capital punishment. Some of the problems is defining torture. There are groups in the US who says that preventing those in Gitmo from have a Quran is torture. Or not feeding them what they want to eat is torture. Heck, there were congressional hearings that said using a female interrogator was torture.

    Those in Gitmo have it alot better than 80% of people in the US prison system.

    All I know is that if my kids were taken hostage and running out of air I would torture the living crap out of the person resonsible for it to get them back. I would also torture someone planning an attack to find out when and where.

    What Mr. Stewart doesn't explain is that President Lincoln during the Civil War used sedition laws to punish, kill, incarcerate people. The courts here have held that if you are fighting for the enemy you are no longer a citizen. This happened to a number of people during WW2 that fought for Germany or spied for them.

    A final point. There were a total of 5 Al Qaeda guys tortured (not the hundreds that you may think were). And documents show that this in fact stopped a number of attacks from occurring. Again, before condenming what would you do if your family was in danger and the only way to stop it was through torture?

  12. Again, before condenming what would you do if your family was in danger and the only way to stop it was through torture?

    I am not the government. And that's really the point. Yes, it makes sense that a single human does everything to protect his family. But not the government.

    The government has to follow laws because, unfortunately, the guy you suspect of terrorism might actually be innocent until you have proven his guilt.

    Of course the real irony is that a European tells an american here that the government needs to be kept in check ;)

  13. That's why we have a legal system. So we dont have personal emotions make decisions out of desperation, or hate or lust for revenge...
    America has still a big 'eye for an eye' culture of revengefulness. Here this is considered savage and every kid already learns that revenge solves nothing, but perpetuates issues. Two wrongs don't make a right. Personally, it is my belief that a society's level of cultivation is shown in how it treats its weakest. And also its criminals. It's easy to deal with good and convenient people.

    Just as a sideline, anyway. Part of it also has to do with the status of religion in the society ofc; here we are very secular and our politicians get a frown for quoting the bible. Which I believe is also a sign of progress.

  14. One of a things we dislike about America is their disregard for international law. Someone has to be world policeman?! UN HAS THOSE POWERS ALREADY! But you got to negotiate. You got to make people agree that intervention is required. And sometimes your decision can be blocked anyway. If you want rule of law, you obey that. If you want lawless world, you act regardless. That's the image we see.

  15. A government has a sworn duty to protect its citizens. This is not that different from a father protecting his family. And all countrue rightfully act in their own self interest.

    Its all fine and dandy to say let the child killing criminal live. Or that the other government is really nice people and won't really do anything to hurt you.

    But basic human nature and history shows this to be wishful thinking. If the child killer killed once he'll do it again. So its better off not having that happen. I can name hundreds if not thousnads of country leaders that subjectgated their neighbors or that started wars. Utopia is a fictional place. We are at most 100,000 years removed from savagery and that is way to short of time for evolution to remove these basic instincts. Not to mention what happens when things get tough and survival becomes a fight.

    So I'll be a nice neighbor but I want my tank division to make sure you don't try to take advantage.

    As for the UN that is a joke. Name me just one single country that has given up their sovereign rights to the UN? In fact if you research this not a single country has given up their right to self defense and turened that decision over to the UN. Every county on the face of the Earth maintains that right to determine what is and what isn't a self defense issue.

  16. Yep, exactly. As it should be! UN is only supposed to intervene in clear and extreme cases, either when asked to, or when Security Council agrees that intervention is necessary. Upholding sovereignty principles is UN job, not destroying them!

    The thing that undermines UN authority the most is that most powerful player openly ignores it when it disagrees with them. And exactly why getting US down a notch or two can be seen as benefit to world at large.

    Looking at Iraq (or even Afghanistan), everything points that US military intervention does more harm then good, both short and long-term.

  17. @Nils
    If it was JFK who was responsible for six nukes less

    I don't think you understood the statement.
    Russia never had nukes to the extent that the US did. Ever. And during the initial stages of the Cold War, the USSR had precisely 6. (This was at a point in time where the US had vast amounts more, and no nukes had yet gone unaccounted for via subs). Their claim was to have hundreds, but spy plane imagery gave an accurate and precise account of the facts.
    JFK was a fool. A diehard idiot. He bought into the Russia lie, despite knowing the truth. He is responsible for being weak in the face of a tyrant, and worried about politics in a time of warranted action.
    He was not responsible for six less nukes, he was in a rather direct, roundabout way responsible for the Cold War becoming what it was.

    The USSR was never ironclad. Their PR machine was amazing. It is in their twilight that the world learnt just how shallow that image went.

    Reagan and Thatcher knew, just like JFK and even the leaders in the Red Army what the facts were. Unlike JFK, Reagan knew how instable the USSR was, and properly gauged that a war of spending would unroot their image. Hindsight being 20:20, he was dead-on.

  18. *during ramp-up. The latter parts of the war are irrelevent, as the war was full swing. The pissing contest had already begun.

  19. So, what should JFK have done to end the cold war at this time in your opinion?

  20. Besides:

    Russia never had nukes to the extent that the US did. Ever.

  21. Ref comment 18. A re-read I knew that statement would be taken precisely the way you did ;)

    Asking the question about JFK is unfair. We can play 'what if' until the cows come home, but it wouldn't be pretty in the options we can devise that JFK had.

    To be as fair to him as possible, he would have needed to expose how the information concerning the precise number was obtained, which meant divulging the U2 program. Ultimately, U2s were a flop compared to other spy programs in place, so it would have been a wash. Being the weakling he was on the international stage (and omgosh hello modern equivalent in current president) meant that he allowed the USSR to expand its propoganda machine. Judging from historical facts, the 'loss' of exposing the U2 program for the 'gain' of ultimately preventing the Cold War (or limiting the scope) seems to be the better path.
    For a small comparision, it doesn't translate exactly: Reagan made GPS available to civilians immediately after the Korean flight incident. The 'loss' of an exclusive tool or knowledge to common hands meant that no one could make excuses for actions. Similarly, JFK could have given up the failure of the U2 program for calling Russia's bluff to the world, perhaps preventing some of the subsequent regimes from taking birth etc.

  22. I wonder what your current president should have done to not appear as a 'weakling' to you. Maybe he should have bombed Pakistan into the stone age instead of giving the military orders to execute a super-risky but successful mission which impressed the world. ;)

  23. Interesting discussion.

    @Nils: Wholeheartedly agree with you on every point you've argued. Peace doesn't come at the point of a gun any more than fire can be put out with matches.

    The American waffling on torture is downright embarrassing. It's quite simple: Everyone deserves justice, good and evil alike, and it can't be extracted from blood and tears.

    As to the analogy of the individuals actions versus that of the government, Nils has the point in hand.

    @Shalcker: On the contrary, military action is inevitable. Just because there's not wars on US soil doesn't discount all the wars we are currently fighting on foreign soil.

    No, pre-emptive action and keeping our "tanks" pointed at the enemy so we can walk to Starbucks isn't any more acceptable than you being locked up for a crime you haven't yet committed.

    But these are the kinds of irrationalizations many Americans make. It's trick of bad logic, of trying to say that we can prevent crazy. I tell you, I don't believe many of my countrymen understand that we live in truly Orwellian times in the USA. People think they'd know it, but it is hard to know unless you are conscious. It's like the toad sitting in water that is gradually coming to a boil; he can't tell, because he's gradually acclimated to the temperature. So he never knows to get out while he's still alive.

    As to negotiating positions ...the real question is what is the position of strength. Is it the side with the largest army? Is it the side with the moral high ground? Strength is relative, but I think it's safe to say that negotiations are about compromise. The US has proven it's great failure to do so, demonstrated by the fact that we fight so many wars. We are never a nation at peace. This is significant, but most Americans have never seen a war, a real gun battle, real bodies in the street doesn't happen on our turf. So we've become quite comfortable with waging wars, because we can't appreciate its ugliness.

    If the USA maintains it's super power status, it won't be because we're super. It will be because the rest of the world fell away under our leadership. It won't do to be the wealthiest country in the world, with the highest standards of living, and the best constitution when you can only compare yourself to Somalia or Iraq or Greece.

    How do we compare, instead, to other modern nations of the world such as Germany and other "first world" countries? I think this comparison would show we are less of a power than we think and we are on precarious ground, pushing forward mostly on the strength of our name, currency, and military.

    I don't hate my country. I hate what it's become. I love the life I get to enjoy, but so many of us take it for granted. But the path we're on day, we will wake up captives in the golden prison we're building for ourselves.

    @Goodmongo: I have no idea what planet you're on, but who is the bully in your analogy below:

    "And one thing that most people forget is how do you handle a bully ...But what if there are no cops to call?"

    What are your thoughts on how to handle the situation when the cop is the bully?

    If you're correct, then the US should have participated in fewer wars since World War 2 (post UN). How has policing the world made you safer?

  24. instead of giving the military orders to execute a super-risky but successful mission

    ... which was successful explicitly because of the focus and dedication provided by his predecessor. Piggybacking on that inertia, and then publicly making that claim that NOT ONCE gives a nod to the man and administration who had the balls to stand up to terrorism? (the very same man he speed-dials time and again when he needs a scapegoat for a problem he fails to resolve) A bit selfish.
    Here's a question for you: would the world be a better place if Obama or JFK were president during Pearl Harbor/911? For all the harm the US has caused because of its military strength and the keynote historical events that led to the US perhaps overextending said strength..

    But that's being baited by your question. The true answer is if he wasn't such a weakling, we would expose the following:
    - We know he had the intel to make the move months (8? 12?) prior. He didn't. He made the move at a time when things were fairly quiet on the political stage.
    - If he were a strong man, and was focused on true success, he would have kept his damn mouth shut. He would have executed the mission quietly, and used all the information gained during said raid to do as much damage to the Al-Qaeda organization as he could before the organization realized that it had been compromised. The extent of said potential damage is clearly unknown, but it's also known that damage would in fact have been done. But again, doing the right thing would have meant checking his political and career goals at the door, something JFK (since we're talking about similarities between the two) was equally guilty of (yes, we can make that claim for anyone, sure) in an eerily similar way.

    PS. I'm sad that I was drawn into a political debate :P I took a self-vow to keep my presence in the blogosphere strictly gaming related, or removed by one degree. I've contacted my Russian historian pal to get the name of books/articles that are worth looking into regarding the Cold War ramp-up as this conversation has me foaming for renewed details on the matter.

  25. ... which was successful explicitly because of the focus and dedication provided by his predecessor


    You really think that two years after Bush was gone when the Obama-administration kills Osama Bin Laden this is a purely a victory for Bush? :)

    For me this sounds ridiculous. 100% totally crazy. You can't honestly believe that !?!

  26. woah Woah WOAH. (Hence why I vowed about the whole political thing).

    I never said anything about a 100% victory for Bush. I'm saying Obama failed to give credit where credit was due, insomuch as a 'nod'. There is victory here for many people, and was made possible by many people, that's all I'm saying.

    Replay his speech. Count the number of times he personally takes credit for the mission (normally done by counting his usage of 'I' or 'me' etc). Now replay the speech and count how many times he gives credit anyone else. Now replay the speech and try to find where he mentions anything whatsoever about Bush and 'thanks for doing so much heavy lifting that made this ultimately possible'. I'm not saying Bush deserves credit, I'm saying he deserves a nod, at least.

    But again I'm being baited ;) The real solution would have been for Obama to not have held a press conference, and to allow the war and intel machines to deal as much damage as possible to the organization before the knowledge became commonplace to the enemy. By immediately (mere hours after the fact!) claiming victory for a battle, he has prolonged a war. A strong leader would let actions speak for themselves, and the results of having kept his big mouth shut would have been FAR more telling. To this there is no dispute (at least I hope?).

  27. I suspect Obama's assassination success is so loathed in some quarters because, far from being a direct result of the groundwork laid by the so-called "war on terror", it is a direct repudiation of that farce. OBL's location was not revealed by torture, but instead by quiet, traditional intelligence work - patiently corroborating data without spooking the quarry or his couriers. He was in Pakistan, the country given a free pass by the previous administration because it was needed for logistics of the relatively-useless Afghan war. And the deed was done surgically, with no collateral damage.

    It is entertaining, as someone outside the United States but very familiar with the talking points of its mainstream parties, to observe the usual conservative checklist being ticked off: financial crisis spurred by evil Democratic lawmakers forcing bankers into giving dodgy mortgages to poor/minorities; the uselessness of the UN; evil environmentalists stopping the flow of non-Islamic Canadian oil; JFK (and presumably FDR) was a dolt but the genial actor-governor from California was a visionary; and last but not least that deliciously Hobbesian view of human nature.

    Most urban, coastal Americans would offer a different narrative. And, thankfully, they are the ones who are the intellectual and cultural soul of their nation. The hip, educated, innovating and indeed entrepreneurial classes.

  28. I can imagine situations in which it is reasonable to have this big speech.
    For example the situation that OBL wasn't so stupid to horde lots of info about his network next to his bed.

    In this case it would have been very smart to talk as loudly as possible about the fact that you killed him at home, that he didn't suspect anything and that you found masses of info. This would make the entire network move around out of fear of being killed by a drone.

    But, we can't know. Perhaps they found lots of stuff and his military besieged Obama do not hold a press conference but Obama said that having this speech now, 24 month before the next elections, would be super-useful. Damn, I didn't want to be ironic :)

    Anyway, Ahtchu, thanks for a nice discussion. Even - especially if people disagree - they should talk to each other. Of course we are all stubborn and never change our mind during a discussion. But in the long-term most of us are capable of adjusting the own opinion. I hope I am ;)

  29. Israel attacked an Arab nuclear program in 1981. It seems not at all unlikely it will happen in the future. Leadership mistakes on both sides, bad intel and modern technology can end quite poorly. The best case is just a horrible, ongoing world wide recession and deep political schisms. But hundreds of thousands of deaths is not out of the question. And even a tiny chance that mistakes among USA/Russia/China and it could end much worse.

    One could argue that the if Israel does not attack, the probability of things ending similarly is also ... high may not be the right word but far, far higher than one would like for catastrophic events.

    I put the chance of a political solution (UN?) as extraordinarily low. Attempts should be made but I (and the residents of Bosnia, Somilia, Darfu, etc) see little reason to believe diplomacy suddenly becomes effective.

    Philosophically, I suppose exhaust diplomatic options and then a preemptive strike is the correct strategy. Selfishly, if some modern day Chamberlains can find "a peace for our time," then I can live out a lot more of my good years in comfort.

  30. Peace isn't a plan. It's a deed. When men understand that, we will have it. It's the most powerful deed in the world and it's the only deed in the world that means everything.

    /pulls hippie pipe

  31. I honestly have no idea where these people are coming from. JFK as a loser/wimp with the implicit claim that we should have nuked Russia while the we had the chance? Bush having laid "groundwork" for OBL's assassination, perhaps while he was out getting revenge on the dictator that gave his daddy the middle finger?

    And then people who can say things like this, yesterday:

    Azuriel is correct in that many can't live without modern convieniences. But these are the OWS types, the Katirina types, basically the drags on society. If it does coem to war they are most likely the ones that won't make it.

    ...without a trace of embarrassment or shame?

    Ugh. Good luck with that.

  32. Gosh so much misinformation and flat out wrong stuff.

    Fire can and is fought with fire. Ever hear of setting backfires?

    Obama bowed and bowed LOW to foreign leaders. He also decided to bargin from a position of weakness (gave up some missle defense without any compensation). Also he said he could "talk" to Iran. That is pure weakness.

    First off define torture as you believe it to be. I bet we get some crazy definitions.

    As for what the US got for this 'torture' (I don't think it was torture), it is EXTREMELY well documented that oveer a dozen plots were stopped. And this torture got the name of Osama's courier. This lead to tracking his comming and goings that lead to the safehouse. So your claim that torture did not lead to Osama is factually wrong.

    Azuriel please argure the facts that we present. Show me anywhere JFK being weak means we needed to nuke Russia. That is a childish type of argument. JFK was weak in his dealing with Russia and this is very well documented. This caused the Cuban Missle Crisis to be more sever then necessary.

    Because of how JFK handed the Bay of Pigs Krushchev and his advisors have stated (supported by documents released) that JFK was indecisive, not well prepared and WEAK. JFK in running for president also used the "missle gap" as a campaign issue. The facts are Russia had 4 ICBM's in 1961 compared to 170 for the US. Russia did have around 700 medium range missles. Hence their decision to try and place these medium range missles into Cuba.

    It really amazes me how the left leaning argue. We say that our president is weak and the left go to the extreme and say so should he bomb everyone? This is a silly type of argument and left for high school or below. There are many ways to show strength without resorting to war.

    Perception is very important. If I call you to my office and make you wait I have shown strength and if you accept you have shown weakness. I don't have to punch you in the nose.

    By saying that others are just as right or have appologizing left and right that shows weakness. For example the US should never appologize for dropping atomic bombs on Japan. It was war. It wasn't any worse then firebombing Tokyo or Dresden.

    @Doone you are probably a young person that needs lots of growing up. I suggest you start by reading history of warfare and why wars started.

    @soresu typical lefty intellectual superiorty complex there. I'm very conservative and would gladly debate you on almost any issue. Most lefties hate real debates as they tend to lose on the facts. The coasts of the US are made up of so called intellectuals who expose the spoon feed Sal Alinsky stuff they heard from a professor in college.

    Now that I answered most of the baseless charges we can debate the actual facts. As for opinions we all have them and they are all worth the exact same thing - nothing.

    As for torture what the US has done is not torture under US laws. Each country defines torture as they see fit. The problem is the UN defines it as "cruel, inhuman or DEGRADING treatment". The US defines it as "the cruel, unusual and inhumane treatment or punishment prohibited by the Fifth, Eighth, and/or Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution".

    For example take stun guns or stun belts. Amenesty International classifies the use of these as torture. But in the US they are used daily to apprehend criminals. In the US we don't hear anything against their use.

    So before even trying to say that torute is wrong you need to define torute. The dems in the US also try to use this technique when mentioning "taxes on the rich". unfortunately they never define what is rich.

  33. @Goodmongo

    Reading your comments its become quite obvious your favorite "News" channel is most likely Fox News, and your bookshelves are probably adorned with the numerous books by Bill O'Reilly, Ann Coulter, and probably decision points by GWB is in there as well.

    Torture in the US is defined as "cruel and unusual punishment". Waterboarding falls under this description by any western civilization's standards. It is basically simulated drowning. Americans DO define waterboarding as cruel and unusual punishment.

    If you want proof just look at criminals who kidnapped a child and stashed them away somewhere. Would we be comfortable as a society waterboarding this person to divulge the location of the kidnapped child? The answer is no, or else we would do it. Its not that waterboarding isn't illegal under our laws. Its that we decide to turn our heads away when it is someone who our government has convinced us is a "terrorist" without even giving them a trial. The pentagon might as well have wiped its ass with our constitution.

  34. @Degrin, i notice that you start your 'debate' by trying to assume facts that you have no clue about. So instead of trying to geuess my sources either contradict them with your sources or provide other information.

    Tortrue is not simply defined as crual and unusual punishment. Legal scholars debate where ther 8th amendment actualls describes torture or not. That said torute is defined under 18 U.S.C. 2340. I won't post what is says as you can look them up.

    Then under international law the US signed a UN convention in 1988 but changed the UN wording as I listed in my last post.

    In 2006 the Military Commissions Act stated that testimony obtained through humiliating or degrading methods would be admissible.

    Now you specifically mention waterboarding. And that is prohibited in the US Army Field manual. But the legal distinction is the use at trial vs. obtaining actionable inteligence.

    You then go on to mention criminals and their treatment. But the Constitution just prevents the use of information gained from torture being used against the person at trial. It is very common for criminal interrogations to last 24-48 hours, especially if immeninent danager is at stack.

    The US Supreme Court has put some limits (36 hours is too long but 24 hours was affirmed) on how long police can interrogate someone. It also allows 'mind games' and lying to defendants like saying they found fingerprints at the crime scene or that their co-defendant is cooperating.

    What this means is that torture in the US is defined differently then at the UN. In fact under UN rules torture must meet the following criteria. The actor must be a public official or another person acting in an official capacity. - The act must be intentionally inflicted. - The pain or suffering must be severe. - The purpose of the act must be obtaining information or a confession. - Torture is excluded if it is inherent or incidental to lawful sanctions.

    The severe and the excusion are important leagal elements. And this is where things get complicated. See under the UN CAT even verbal harrassemnet (calling someone gay for example) can be classified as torture. So debate rages over the sever clause.

    And the last exemption is critical because if torture comes from lawful sanctions (ala the 2006 Military Commissions Act) that means its not torture under the UN CAT.

    Now if you want to argue facts such as these then fine. If you want to go off saying Fox news, Glenn beck etc then go back to reading comic books and leave the actual debate to adults.

  35. I would like to add that tortue of US citizens on US soil is not a crime. Torture as a distinct crime done by governmental officials in the USA is not punishable under US law. Torture would clearly be a violation of someone's constitutional rights, but there are no laws – either state or federal which address police torture.

    I line in Illinois and not to long ago a police commander named Burge was prosecuted but not under torture. There are simply no laws in the US which make it a criminal act as long as it is committed on US soil.

    Now the debate can say that we need such laws. That is fine and fair. But to say that torture is illegal is simply not the case under US laws.

  36. @Goodmongo

    Your style of argument is indicative of one who takes information for the sources I listed and others similar. I can make logical assumptions based on the trends in your arguments which lean towards pushing "agendas" indicative of neo-conservative radicalism. I am not one to ignore the 800 pound gorilla in the room.

    With that aside you said nothing to refute the point that it is inadmissable under our constitution (supreme to any other law) other than stating that legal scholars "debate" the 8th amendment. Which is true for just about every portion of the constitution, which makes it a moot point.

    As far as 18 U.S.C. 2340 goes it clearly states "severe physical or mental pain or suffering". I'd say you would have a tough time arguing that simulated drowning does not fall under that description. The exclusion from "other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions" cannot be used as an excuse for waterboarding because "lawful sanctions" can be carried out without the use of waterboarding.

    In addition, 2006 MCA has unconstitutional written all over it. It passed without bipartisan support and once the conservatives no longer have a 5-4 majority in the U.S.C much of it will be likely shot down for gross violations of habeous corpus. It stops criminals of the US from being tried by an unbiased jury. We either believe in our legal system or we don't. Additionally, it protects officials accused of waterboarding from being tried. This is the legal equivalent of saying "Violate the constitution, we are looking the other way"

    No laws exist in states because it is not a widespread pandemic in our country. There are no laws specifically against many things commonly regarded an unethical. Most cases of torture are treated as an assault of some kind. Do you not think we would have a law specifically against torture if we were reading about it in the papers every other day? Opening the door to torture (against anyone) is not the way to keep it out of our society. An assault on liberty anywhere is a threat to liberty everywhere. No need to butcher our system of law out of convenience.

  37. @Degrin, the 8th amendment applies to punishment. Hence the legal debate. It does not state that torutrue or cruel and unusal punishment will be subject to punishment. 18 U.S.C. 2340 only applies to torture OUTSIDE of the US. And the 2006 act is legal and binding till ruled unconsitutional. Sorry but your argument that it someday might be ruled unconstitutional is lacking. I can say that about any law that was never ruled upon. Bottom line it has zero weight till it happens if it ever does.

    You nor anyone else can cite any US law that punishes torture done within the US. None exist at any level, state or federal. Sorry but wishing one to exist doesn't cut it. If I'm wrong cite it here for all of us.

    As proof I offer the Burges case. A Chicago cop that basically beat, shocked and did all kinds of things that would be considered torture. But he was not prosecuted for torture. There are no laws to do that. There are laws that punish you for the torture of animals but not of people.

    All the Supreme Court has ever said was evidence gained from torture could not be used at trial. Never once did they prosecute anyone or punish anyone for said torture. there are laws and punishment for violating your constitutional rights and for battery, but they are not specifically torture related.

    My points are simple logic. The US has no laws to punish torture. A recent law (its still a law even if you disagree with it) prohibits government officials from prosecution for torture done outside of the US. The UN CAT excludes from torture sactioned acts.

    The law is not always common sense but the courts to date have ruled that the US can not be prosecuted for torture and changed the definition of torture where the UN defines it differently then the US.

    You may not like it. You may not agree with the courts findings. Heck I bet you think the 2nd amendment still only applies to militias. But the fact remains that the US under US laws has not commited an act that can be prosecuted as torture.

  38. @Goodmongo

    The crux of it really is that a law like 2006 MCA cannot "lawfully" suspend habeas corpus. The argument really comes into play with Article 1 Section 9. "The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion, the public safety may require it"

    In order for MCA to not violate the consititution you need to argue that terrorists or those even remotely related to them are invaders. What kind of precident does this leave us with? This lays the groundwork for suspending HC for citizens that are labeled a "terrorist". I could argue that half of congress are "terrorists". Should Timothy McVeigh not have gotten a trial? Where is the line drawn? It had been decided over 200 years ago that the people should be able to decide this, which is why we have hc and due process in the first place.

    Look, I don't think we should bow down to suspected terrorists, I am arguing that we shouldn't allow ourselves to succumb to the temptation to become just like them.

    Violation of liberty always starts with an exception and slowly, over time, evolves into a rule. The idea is to squash it as soon as it appears. Look at laws violating the second amendment as a perfect example of this.

    In response to your other comment. I actually fully support the 2nd amendment and do not believe it is solely there because of the need for militias. It is the second line of defense against oppressive government. "The tree of liberty needs to be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

  39. @Degrin: Give it up, he's trolling and has turned a perfectly good opportunity to discuss something important into a platform for announcing why he's right. I do believe he's baiting you.

    @Nils: Good of you to open such a controversial political issue. It's nice to see fellow gamers who pay attention to the world around us and who are humble (even brave) enough to welcome the thoughts of others.

  40. Obama bowed and bowed LOW to foreign leaders. He also decided to bargin from a position of weakness (gave up some missle defense without any compensation). Also he said he could "talk" to Iran. That is pure weakness.

    For the record, about everyone's favorite president Reagan:

    I guess by today's whacked-out standards, Reagan was a leftie.
    Reagan raised taxes seven of his eight years in office, exploded the rate of federal expenditure and increased the federal civilian workforce, called for the total abolition of nuclear weapons, cut-and-ran from Lebanon after 280+ Marines were killed by terrorists there, and negotiated with a Soviet dictator face-to-face without preconditions five times in two years.
    Before that, as governor, he vastly increased California's welfare state, raised taxes, and even signed into law an abortion liberalization measure. Oh, and he was a divorced Hollywood actor who avoided foreign service during World War II and rarely attended church.
    By today's standards, the right wing would consider him to be the Anti-Christ.

  41. @Ahtchu: you really have no idea about what you're talking about and still go at like there's no tomorrow.

    Just a couple examples, can't be bothered to point them all:

    1. USSR had only six nukes in 1962 and JFK knew that? A 1 minute Google search would contradict this from hundreds of sources so no point discussing it more.

    2. The Russians found out about the U2 spy-plane program in 1960 (at the very latest) when they shut down one of those planes over their airspace.

    Look up at least the basic facts before entering an argument, makes you look silly.

  42. @Doone do you call everyone that disagrees with you a troll? Please argue facts and not try to dismiss the opposite side through name calling.

    @Unknown, there is a difference in having nukes vs. ICBM's. I I pointed out in my post Russia had 4 ICBM's operational but had over 700 medium range missles. Ahtchu should have been clearer in his post but you make the same mistake.

    Basically a nuke boms without the deliver method is useless.

  43. Well, medium range missles can turn western europe into a nuclear wasteland ...

  44. Nils, yes but that fact was not relevant to the discussion and point.

    The point was if JFK was weak or strong. It was pointed out that Russia had at that time 4 to 6 nukes. Another poster implied nukes that could hit the US and I clarified it by giving accurate numbers of ICBM's and medium range missles.

    This all was relevant because the reason behind Cuba stationing missles was because Russia held very few nukes that could hit the US.

    Then another posted basically said Ahtchu was stupid and needed to look up the facts. I set the record straight.

    And this goes to your other post how some can't win on facts so they pick apart the statement and reinterpret it. Yes Ahtchu was not 100% clear in his statement, but my post did clarify it. And of course those disagreeing never went on to argue the actual point on if JFK was or was not a weak president.

  45. Yes and no, Goodmongo. Kennedy had to remember that ultimately the fact that he had more ICBMs was irrelevant. A credible threat to actually fire these ICBMs at Russia had resulted in Europe trying to ally with Russia to prevent Russia from throwing nuclear bombs at Europe.

  46. @Goodmongo: see Nils' last two comments. Nothing more to add there, really.

  47. Either you guys forgot what the actual debate point was or you are trying to move from it on purpose.

    The debate point was if JFK was a weak president. As part of the argument to support this preposition the pro-weak side cited that JFK knew he had a strategic superiority in ICBM's over Russia.

    I also added his failure ar the Bay of Pigs and the he ran on a 'missle gap' to win the presidency. So since he ran on this missle gap he couldn't then go public and state that the US had 170 ICBM's to Russia's 4.

    All your other arguments about missles in Europe or the number of medium range missles does not factor into if JFK was a strong or weak president.

    If it does then explain the logic please.

    I also offered proof of his weakness by citing quotes of former SU leaders including Kruschev.

  48. I also offered proof of his weakness by citing quotes of former SU leaders including Kruschev.

    Quotes from enemies of JFK could hardly be called proof. Look through history and you'll quickly see that it's very common for people to want to make their enemies appear weak.