Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Comment Re:Dammit, Europe! (Score 1) 219 219

My point concerning nuclear deterrence is that it negates full scale war in Europe. This is undeniable insofar as it negates the necessity of having a military capable of fighting a full scale war in Europe. Your point regarding skirmishes, interventions, and other small scale subversions of the international order, however, remains valid.

That said, Europe is supremely unconcerned about North Korea, the Taiwan Strait, and Sino-Japanese grandstanding. Again, for the foreseeable future the role of world police is almost exclusively American. I don't see why Europe would have any issue with that, since American cultural identities and values are quite European-aligned and thus non-threatening. This restricts Europe's area of interest significantly, and further reduces the need for intervention capacity.

Still, you are severely underestimating European power projection. While Putin is 'making fools of Europe' making a show of submarines and fighter jets, Russia's economy has just imploded. Its like bread and circuses, but they're running out of bread. Except for Ukraine, these shows are largely irrelevant to European interests, hence the 'impunity'. If Argentina were to make good of their saber-rattling in the Falklands they'd get a whooping just like last time. The UK has the most active military in Europe because it cooperates with the US so often, in Afghanistan, Iraq, etc. Apart from the US and Russia, every operational carrier group is European. The UK has two carrier groups. France, Italy, and Spain also have one each. Every other nation has old European handouts for training purposes. The recent intervention in Libya was done mainly with EU assets. Europe is pretty capable of defending its peripheral interests militarily if needed be.

Finally, about beliefs. A nation state is about some sort of national unity, and about some sort of state structure. European countries are particularly resilient because most are pretty strong at both. See Germany, who not only exists after multiple total fuckups, but is doing pretty well. French national unity has survived multiple failed states as well. Likewise, most states that have their ideologies threatened do not 'die', they simply adapt to new belief systems. The regular people, of course, mostly just go about their daily lives regardless.

Rome did indeed fail at transitioning badly enough to 'die', for multiple reasons. The Soviet Union? I'm not so sure it died, considering its still controlled by the same oligarchic elites as before, but with another name and a token democratic process. Russia is not an empire with that many satellites anymore, but neither is France and the UK and they also seem to be doing okay. Adapting to Islam should not be that big of a deal, since most liberal states nowadays are quite secular and multicultural. Sure, Islamic extremism is quite problematic (a civil problem, not a war problem), but Europe has a long history of religious conflict. Usually the state 'wins' and everyone ends more civilised. Hopefully history will repeat itself in this way as well.

Comment Re:Dammit, Europe! (Score 1) 219 219

Europe may not have 'credible military force' if you define that as conventional arms. Conventional arms are credible insofar as they are effective in interstate wars. Even magically excluding American interests, both British and French nuclear deterrence precludes interstate war in or around the Eurozone. This is why there is so much covert 'insurgency' going on in Ukraine. Open warfare is untenable. At least in Europe, conflict has changed.

European military might did decline significantly - though virtually all non-American carrier groups remain European - yet the EU has a lot of power to do whatever they want. It educates much of the world's elites, it can exert enormous economic pressure, and it has sophisticated and pretty effective security forces. That's what matters most to prevent and mitigate modern transnational crime and internal conflict.

For everything else there is the US, who took over the role of global hegemon. Case in point from your own example: Kosovo was an ethnic conflict and a political mess. It was never a question of 'defeating Yugoslavia'. No one wanted to intervene because playing knight in shining armour in Rwanda did not go very well earlier, and the Balkans are only European on the map anyway, so who cares. Hence, US intervention.

Your example of European weakness is unconvincing, you overestimate the role of conventional military force, and you neglect nuclear and economic strategic imperatives. But, worst of all, militarisation misses the point entirely: religious extremism is not a threat to states at all, and to make this a military issue is to guarantee an unwinnable conflict.

If I knew what the cold light of reality was, I'd say it was not your friend.

Comment Re:Too many outdated talking points and stereotype (Score 1) 325 325

Very interesting post, and I wholeheartedly agree with the China part, but I have to say the instability of the regime is significantly overplayed. The whole video thing is being used to construct a Western fairy tale.

Somehow it is being made as a sign of rebellion, of cracks in the system, imminent collapse. True, the 'army first' ideology is a very strong pillar of the DPRK regime, and of course it is uncommon to see people being uncooperative with army officials. But that is just ideology. Merely the means to keep the masses compliant with authority.

But authority has many forms. As in every corrupt regime the currency of North Korea is loyalty. Every North Korean has a pin on their chest; of Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-il, or Kim Jong-un. Sometimes a combination of them. These pins have to be earned, they are passed within the family, and they are very clear signs of allegiance. Shiny new pins means a well-connected person enjoying political favour. Whoever this woman is she has a vehicle, whereas most people use bicycles or ox-carts (without oxen, unfortunately). She has fuel to run it. We take these trivial things for granted, but in North Korea this means a lot. She definitely has the right combination of pins on her chest.

The army uniform shows no pins, they are their own faction. Ordinarily the army uses no vehicles, of course, because they have no fuel to spare. The DPRK army is proud of their wood-fueled trucks. Its like a steam locomotive, but stupider. Party officials drive around the wide Pyongyang boulevards in Mercedes-Benz though. Their relatives can have trucks. And can impose the authority of the ruling elite on hapless schmucks like the soldier on the video.

So, nothing really new to see there, just the firm grasp of the ruling elite on the rest of North Korean society. There must be some fanatics, but regular people don't believe all that ideology crap anymore, if they ever did. There is too much information coming in from the South. Still, everyone knows they are expected to act as if they did believe it. And for the sake of their family and future prospects, they do. They remain under control, and things stay exactly the same as 5, 10, 50 years ago. A less attractive story, but truth usually is.

Comment Re:I'm sure he's quivering in his boots... (Score 1) 325 325

The UN record is far from perfect, and yet once upon a time - in fact the only time the UN explicitly took sides in an interstate armed conflict - the UNC, a UN army, directly intervened against North Korea. And was beating up North Korea so much that China, and even Russia at some point, had to sneak in.

I think this sort of intervention is nigh impossible nowadays, but it would be foolish for anyone to disregard the UN as a joke. Gaddafi must have been very surprised when the UN let NATO have its fun in Libya, but Kim Jong-un would be especially dumb to let Korean history repeat itself.

Comment Re:Why now? (Score 1) 325 325

Actually, the veto mechanism has been designed precisely to make the UN ineffective when everyone (that matters) does not agree.

Disagreements make the UN ineffective in pushing one-sided agendas. This is what made the UN largely a talk-shop during the Cold War. Anything of significance would be pro-US or pro-Soviet Union, but nothing would come out of it. This is what enabled the UN to survive. Making small progress, here and there.

On the other hand, the League of Nations was 'effective' in the sense that it was a puppet of the status quo powers. It passed all kinds of strongly worded condemnations. Revisionist states quickly learned to disregard it, and soon enough the whole institution was worse than useless. States with real power used their power (read: took to arms) instead of keeping politics to diplomacy, because the diplomacy was rigged against them. And then we had WW2. Veto power arguably ensures that states powerful enough to upset the international system will not be sidelined, because their disagreement can simply halt everything. And thus the UN remains valuable to them. And thus the UN will not be simply abandoned and become irrelevant as the League of Nations did. And hopefully we will not have WW3.

Because it persisted, for better or worse the UN has been increasingly active in imposing particular sets of values on the 'international community', whether it wants or not. And we are critical when it fails in this new role, because some of those values (like human rights) are very important to us. But it is also very important that the UN was set up as a point of peaceful friction between sovereign states who were not to be imposed on in any aspect, for a good reason.

So, beware of effectiveness. Not everyone has the same image of the future. The countries with power will use that power to shape the world the way they want. Do you want them to set the rules, or do you want them to break the rules? The purpose of the veto is to keep the UN rules acceptable. It is not pretty, but I think it is pretty clever, and we are all probably better off because of it.

Comment Re:No Shit (Score 0) 442 442

It is often repeated that embassies are foreign territory. This is a mistake, and they are not.

By the concession of the host country embassies and consulates are under a foreign jurisdiction under international law. They are within the host territory, and their diplomatical status is given and can be taken away at will (though it is not very polite to go around revoking embassies).

They may be treated as foreign territory under the US legal domestic regime (like federal buildings are treated as having their own jurisdiction), but they are surely not a foreign dot in the map. So I imagine the Constitution should take precedence over whatever other domestic policy pretending embassies are not US soil for spying purposes. Though I guess spying on foreigners would be okay anywhere anyway.

Comment Re:And so (Score 2) 157 157

Why would it be temporary? Didn't you get the memo about all of Europe going soft?

The UK is not only a member of EU and permanently on the UNSC, but also a member of NATO. I'm hard pressed to create a scenario where it has to defend something, anything, on it own.

It just needs enough military capabilities to maintain a culture of pride in the armed forces and to keep the US complaints of burden sharing at bay.

The purpose of the British submarine nuclear deterrence is a mystery to me.

Comment Re:Can't they get him out (Score 1) 541 541

This has been said repeatedly elsewhere, but as everyone with any international law background knows, there is no such thing as diplomatic asylum anywhere, except as a local custom in South America. And not all of South America either.

There is no -law- in international law. It is entirely based on consent by each State. Even signed and ratified treaties are still open to interpretation sometimes. Sovereign governments do pretty much whatever they can get away with politically. The highest 'authority' of international law would be the ICJ, because everyone likes to pretend the UN Charter is important. Well, almost everyone. The US doesn't feel like recognising the authority of the ICJ is beneficial, so it doesn't, and then its not bound by it. Simple as that.

It's the same with the UK and Ecuador. The UK does not recognise asylum rights to free passage wherever. Assange is not a political refugee anywhere relevant to European courts. He has a pending arrest warrant. Whatever Ecuador says about their understanding of international law is completely irrelevant. Very simple too.

Comment Re:Governments and banks should take care of it. (Score 1) 243 243

As is, SSL has no enforcement whatsoever, of course its exploited and abused, that's my point.

As for passports, they are faked, yes, but not all the time. In whatever country, you're totally and utterly screwed if caught with a fake passport. The real world isn't spy movies you know?

Comment Re:Governments and banks should take care of it. (Score 1) 243 243

Governments aren't about trust, they are about compliance. You can be unhappy and distrustful all you want, but if you aren't posting from jail, odds are that you wouldn't fake SSL certificates just as you don't fake passports.

It doesn't need to be perfect, after all, just better than the meaningless system we have now.

Comment Re:Hume and the Irony Universe (Score 1) 258 258

founded in a mix of both direct empirical experience and consistent reason derived from other direct empirical experience

Oh, I see. Induction is solved because we can show, based on empirical evidence, that our empirical evidence is correct. Great.

The more charitable way to describe that is "bootstraping". People in the know sometimes shorten it to BS ;) But only when they don't want to say its circular reasoning.

Comment Correct me if I'm wrong but... (Score 1) 47 47

the Playmetrix software allows them to embed 'call backs' into their game code that trigger when players do something of interest. This is all visualised via graphics and charts so activities become infographics.

Is this novel, or complex, in any way? Aren't aspects and business intelligence covered in the first half of CS courses?

Why is 'call backs' in quotes? They probably are just callbacks, nothing arcane behind it.

I guess venture capital and headlines really are all about the buzzwords.

At these prices, I lose money -- but I make it up in volume. -- Peter G. Alaquon

Working...