Jonathan Dowdall I am left speechless by this tosh. Gandhi may have fought British rule by peaceful means, but the partition of India that accompanyed that event displaced 12.4m people, and may have killed up to 500,000. Ethnic strife, theft of property, assasinations - all in Gandhi's apparently idylic, peaceful India. What are you talking about? Secondly - a new deal with Thailand? What the hell does that have to do with any of India's current security issues? Is Thailand a player in Kashmir? Is it in a position to degotiate with the Naxalite marxists that control swathes of Eastern India? Does it's own counter-terror efforts in its troubled south show any signs of greater success? What terrorist threat are you even addressing? Garbage.
Jonathan Dowdall Agreed. Interestingly, the only example of a states military being divided in a fair and acrimonious fashion in European history was the split between the Czech Republic and Slovakia. There, courts of international observers helped us criteria such as GDP distribution per country, physical location of each capability and actual ethnic membership to find a viable solution for slicing the military up. Interestingly, under such criteria, Scotland - at only approx 10% of UK GDP and population, would fare quite badly indeed. 10% of the airfroce, navy, etc - would be pretty small....
Jonathan Dowdall With all due respect, I chose my words very carefully, and your own biased langauge demonstrates why. For instance, "political union but remain seperate states" - is rhetorically very nice, but means absolutely nothing in terms of sovereign law. A "nation" is not a unit of sovereign governance. Any sovereign state can be composed of as many duchys, principalities, nations, "states" (US designation), lander or any other term you wish to designate seperate adminstrative units. But only a state is sovereign - appealing to nationhood in the UK case doesn;t actually get us anywhere. Equally, "redefine" the relationship? You mean "become a new sovereign state" - which is, by definition, seperatism. It is not pejorative, in my opinion.
Jonathan Dowdall Thanks for commenting, Scott. Yes, I was certainly under the impression the financial crisis has damadged the SNPs case - but it now seems the mood has turned around. Cries that "this wouldn't have happened our own Government", however post-factual and thus impossible to proove, always sell well in times of strain.
Jonathan Dowdall Fun extra debate, for those who care - what would happen to Britain's nuclear deterrent, which is entirely based in Scotland? http://www.rusi.org/analysis/commentary/ref:C4DF0A2F39DAA2/
Jonathan Dowdall It does not, but Afghanistan is not a territorial self-defence mission. (Article 5) It is a so-called Article 7 operation - a mutually agreed intervention to achieve a noted stability or humanitarian goal. Libya, Ocean Shield (anti-piracy) and Kosovo were all Article 7 operations. But the key detail is, Article 5 is an obligation, Article 7 a "coalition of the willing" style deployment.
Jonathan Dowdall When someone told me about this atrocious video, I was saddended, as I knew the pumped up, adrenaline fuelled actions of these few servicemen would cast a dark shadow over all men and women deployed, as well as the operation itself. But I wasn't expecting everyone, including PM, it seems,was going to be so keen to show the video and images repeatedly. I mean really, when someone tells you - "there's a gross and slightly imhume video out there of men urinating on dead people", my first instinct is not to post the link. I understand we need to comprehend what war atrocities can look like, but I've been more than capable of imagining the killing fields of Rwanda or other such events without googling every last image. A summary would do!
Jonathan Dowdall Gary, the US spends one of the lowest percentage of GDP amounts of any developed nation on humanitarian aid. Sweden is ranked 5th on the list of the worlds most generous for giving foreign assistance. http://www.globalhumanitarianassistance.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/GHA-non-DAC-donors-humanitarian-aid1.pdf
Jonathan Dowdall That depends on the context. Narrative theory is most commonly associated with "strategic communications" - as you point out, the military euthenism for making sure reflections on a conflict are positive. Propoganda for the modern age, However, the assesment above is about narrative theory as a cognitive exercise - about the use of stories within your own mind, not nessecarily when you tell them to others. I should perhaps have made this more explicit by saying "narrative theory can be summarised as the stories we tell OURSELVES". Cowen's speech was about understanding how stories can restrict your ability to reason effectively.
Jonathan Dowdall Gosh, you do love Sweden! Thanks also for the list of Swedish success stories. Spotify was new to me - I had seen the London HQ and did not realise it was Swedish founded. Skype, however, is Estonian, and founded in Talinn, to the best of my knowledge?
Jonathan Dowdall Nonsense. The new strategy explicitly expounds the continued use of drones and special forces to directly kill foreign citizens in peace-time. Such actions - whilst I refute the term imperialistic on principle - are certainly aggresive and intrusive to other states. It also commit US forces to a rising presence in the Asia Pacific region - what exactly do you imagine they will be doing there, handing out flowers? This new strategy does not mark an end to US interventionism. You are appluading a phantom.
Jonathan Dowdall I think Britain would be pleased as punch if the islanders decided they'd all like to move out. Would be a lot cheaper in the long run, as oil or not, the military presence there costs millions a year. However, as it is, the islanders really are super commited to being British. Just like that other British population threatened with seperation from London - Northern Irish protestants - their displays of nationalist fervour, Union jack waving and dedication to the Queen appear almost quant to modern cosmopolitan British eyes. So I would say, in defence of UK actions in '82, that whilst the war did "score well" at home, the defence of British citizens that had been invaded and conquered does, on the whole, seem legitimate.
Jonathan Dowdall The answer is of course - yes. Any state action that intervenes in our lives implies a certain degree of liberties lost - be it the liberty to drive a car over the speed limit, or the liberty to steal. Laws enforce what we can and cannot do based upon perceptions of public goods - and counter terror policy must under-go the same calculation. This calculation, then, needs to take into account the threat and risk environment, and allign responses (detention, stop-and-search pwoers, etc.) with what is nessecary to lower these risks to a reasonable level. And that's where this Argentine example falls down. There is no existential terror threat in that nation to justify the extent of these measures - at all. It is a worrying power-grab.
Jonathan Dowdall Aaaron, I certainly agree, and I think self-determination of the territories inhabitants should be our guiding principle when faced with such disputes. However, as I've noted above, this principle is not actually gaining support in the region. We have to be honest and realise that the British case has not been "sold" well to Latin America, as evidenced by the latest ban. The islands are, whatever our high intellectual ideals, being viewed as a colonial anachronism by the largest nations in the region. If this view cannot be changed, then Britain will face Falkands crisis somewhere down the line. We need to address this now.
Jonathan Dowdall That is certainly how I feel - the "principle of thing", if you will. But this latest dispute has shaken those foundations for me. If Brazil, a serious international economy and the regions largest military power is willing to buy in to these cheap Argentinian shots, then maybe it's time we conceded that "the principle" is not popular in the region, and could lead us down a road where we are forced to fight, once again, at great cost, for these islands. Just because Argentinas position is unpallatable does not mean we can't have a conversation. I've personally been baffled at London's reticence to forward the case to the UN for formal adjudication - what are they afraid of, that it will vote in favour of kicking off the natives?
Jonathan Dowdall Nope. I'm afraid the simple answer is that the Falklands falls outside of the North Atlantic Treaty. It explicitly rules out the use of Article 5 collective defence for any territory outside of the Euro-Atlantic area, and even references specificlly "colonial possessions" - to stop France invoking the clause over Algeria, which was within that area during that war. It is not protected.
Jonathan Dowdall (cont) That is not good. Even if your cause - the plight of veterans and the need to encourage a more open approach to mental health in the ranks - is worthy, false or exagerrated figures are, nonetheless, just bad lobbying. They seek to shock and grab attention - but if they are not totally true, you are not helping your cause. I anticipate some arguement with this statement - but relative suicide rates amongst the military may in fact be quite close to national averages for that age group and demographic. That does not make it any less tragic - I'd argue it makes the blight of suicide on society seem even more stark and sad. But it does indicate it may not be a solely military issue.
Jonathan Dowdall This is an important issue, and the CNA document referenced is obviously highlighting some damming aspects of society's wider treatment of veterans. However, I would urge a great deal of caution when using these statistics about suicides in the military. The "1% of society but 20% of all suicides" fact in particualr is deeply misleading. The military may be 1% of society, but it is not a flat, 1% sample of society - a key difference. It is predominantly male - and men are 4x as likely to commit suicide than women. It is also composed largely of people under 35 - the highest statistical group for suicide attempts. Recent UK reports have indicated these distortions may be overempahsising the military's relative suicide rate. (cont.)
Jonathan Dowdall I covered this topic a while back, and provided some thorough reasoning as to why the EU is not, and will not, head for a 1930s style slide into continent wide warfare. http://www.policymic.com/articles/1819/because-of-euro-crisis-will-europe-be-at-war-in-10-years Any thoughts?
Jonathan Dowdall I think you may be taking my ideas a few steps too far. All I'm saying is that these games weave the gamers reactions and choices into a narrative which is, thanks to good scripting, a complex and politically informative one. Good fiction in all forms can help us understand the human condition, and art forms that draw the participants interaction can logically be expected to do that better. But no, I'm not suggesting the trick of turning a player's pull of the trigger into an in-game change is tantamount to representing politics itself. That would be silly.
Jonathan Dowdall I think my fellow commentators have already covered the major problems with this article's thesis. I will just add for greater emphasis that comparing a country within easy striking distance of NATO member states and another esconsed between Russia on one side and the one of the most inhospitable (both diplomatically and geographically) regions on earth does seem tragically naive from a practical perspective. Hypocrisy may be a major issue in some cases, but that debate is cheapened by such poor comparisons. Intervention requires a military force to do it, and without an appreciation of how such forces could get to and stay in theatre, the rest of your analysis is bunk.
Jonathan Dowdall Agreed, I certainly concede that first-person-shooters tend to run a lowest common demoninator line. But then so does most cinema, as others here are noting - yet film buffs are considered legitimate hobbyists, whereas gamers are rejected as childish jockey-fodder. That's prejudicial, and increasingly disrespectful. Also, I have highlighted the list of games above because, for me, 2011 has seen some studios step off the beaten path and truly allowed their games to explore more edifying territory. I expect more of the same as this field matures, and think we should all start paying attention. And P.S - MW2 may be a "retread", but it doesn't portray the US as unceasingly right at all. At the end, you turn against the US military!
Jonathan Dowdall A fair point and likely the case for many. All I would say, is that in the games provided above, the inherently binary decisions of the gamers agency (kill vs. do not kill, or enter door vs. do not enter door) can be woven into narratives and ideas which have decidedly ambiguous and complex outcomes. Take Deus Ex - your momentary decision to kill or stun is racked up into your characters moral compass - changing the nature of your allies and enemies, and eventually defining the political decision you are offered at the games conclusion. The gamer may not pause to consider the moral or political ramifications of what he does. But a good game can take actions into account and produce a result on their behalf. That's an art form.