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Nuclear weapons- the big(ger) picture

November 18, 2004

[Originally posted by nine]

Alright, so I ran across this article yesterday and was surprised it hadn't shown up on Ignorance Flamewar Central (aka: Fark).

http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/World/2.../718503-ap.html

I don't know about you, but that seems like pretty big news to me. Actually, they changed that article during the course of yesterday, because it originally had a quote from some Russsian official saying that they were being developed to defend against terrorist threats. Yeah...............right, 'cause we all know that terrorists live in Terrorville in the country of Terrorland.

Anyway, so then there's also the quotes of the US saying they've known about it all along and are not surprised while nervously calling the Russians thier friends and stuff. Haha. That's pretty entertaining right there. Personally, I think that Russia is the only country in the world the US is remotely scared of and they're just happy to be almost kinda on thier side right now and don't wanna rock the boat. So it's all reacted to about as calmly as can be, despite this new missle system being boasted as able to penetrate the upcoming US defence shield.

THEN, there's this article today:

http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/World/2.../719070-ap.html

Good god! Iran is developing nuclear weapons!?!?!?! Holy sh!t- we've gotta *do* something about this!

Alright, so I personally think that nuclear weapons are ridiculous. Don't think that I'm naieve enough to not understand why they're still being built or anything, but let's face it- no country in thier right mind would use them.

I'm seeing all of this recent news on nuclear weapon building and am starting to think that the ROW (rest of the world..) is looking at the US and saying "You know what? They're starting to piss me off with all of this 'We're gonna rule the world now.' stuff. I think it's time we started to defend ourselves again.".

What do you guys think?

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November 20, 2004

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rmn, do you think that these nations wish the US well? Really? Do you live in the same world?
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Well, of course they don't.

The problem (in general) is that there're a lot of unhappy people around the world and everybody thinks he/she has a solution, including the US administrations of the past 60 years. That's all well and good if the US administrations have been locked up in a small room with no access to the outside. However, given the importance of the US on the world stage, a lot of people look to the US for direction when things are not going well.

Now, you have to be completely honest here: the US has a long history of backing the wrong horses (the Shah of Iran, South Vietnam, people of Somalia, etc). Moreover, backing the wrong horses upsets people. For many people around the world, American policies are see to be arrogant and insensitive. Yet America and American policies carry so much weight on the world stage, they cannot be ignored. The starting points are usually well-intentioned, but not everyone looks at things with 'American logic'. So someone, somewhere will be upset, no matter that you do or don't do.

There is a reason why people don't like the US - pretty much because of generations of American foreign policies.

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November 20, 2004

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I disagree, the US has a long history of backing the right horses, not right in every case, but right enough to be a major player in winning two World wars (which were someone else's mess) and defeating the biggest evil empire of our time, the Soviet Union, which BTW wasn't a mess we made either, it also came about as a result of the WWII mess.
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Well, I guess the economic might and military power accelerated the decline of the Soviet Union where the political, economic and social philosophies were based on a set of unworkable utopian logic...

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November 20, 2004

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I don't think "nations" have any wishes. People do. And the way they feel towards someone tends to reflect how that someone treats them.

If you think any state or group of people want to attack or invade the USA, you've been suckered. Attacking any country (car bombs, poisoned water supplies, even 9/11 style attacks) is ridiculously easy. Duct tape won't prevent it, the homeland security department won't prevent it, and Super George won't prevent it.

How hard do you really think it is for someone to fill his truck with explosives, park it in the middle of a city, and blow up a building? Especially if he's willing to get caught or even kill himself in the blast?

So why are those attacks so rare?

The "nations that hate the USA" don't hate the USA the country. They hate what the USA (the government) does to them. All they want is for that to stop. The USA has not only spread more violence, injustice and terror all over the world than any other country (puppet dictators in South America, Middle East and Asia, supporting terrorist organisations like al Qaeda, UNITA, etc., assisting and supporting invasions and genocide in countries like East Timor, Israel, etc.), but it somehow feels it has the right to preach about freedom and democracy. That just adds hypocrisy to the list of "complaints". It's a bit like seeing Hitler make very passionate speeches about equality and tolerance while his troops are exterminating all the non-arians.

Read this and you might begin to understand.

Not even Mr. Evil himself (Osama bin Ladin) wants to attack or destroy the USA: "Your security is in your own hands. Any nation that does not attack us will not be attacked." The notion that there are "evil people" out there, threatening "the west" and "civilisation" and "freedom" is created by the US government to scare its own citizens into supporting its fascist policies.

Americans have a certain natural tendency for paranoia to begin with (don't ask me why, but it's a fact - nearly all americans I know, including some that have been living in Portugal for decades, are a bit paranoid), so it's very easy for Bush & Friends to manipulate them. Make them scared and convince them that only he can keep them safe, when in fact the threat doesn't exist (and, if it did, he wouldn't be able to do anything to prevent it - see car bomb example above).

In fact, most people in this planet like the USA and like USAians, but despise many aspects of US foreign policy (especially those of the Bush administration). The longer the people of the USA support those policies, the more that hatred for the administration will spread to the nation as a whole. It's going to take decades for the USA to regain the respect it had before Bush became President.
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Amen, brother!

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November 20, 2004

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Like I've said several times (because it's totally true) that's EXACTLY what you Euros told me in the early 80's when I was there about Reagan as President and his policies, it's going to take decades etc. There you go again.
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Well, may be that's because, overall, US foreign policies haven't really changed in the two decades since you last lived in Europe. Can't you accept that not everyone see the world in the same color tinted lenses? (Or, not everyone agree on how to deal with the same problem...)

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November 20, 2004

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In fact your country is our biggest ally right now in what we're doing, is it not? So what does the World think of your country (government)? Racist, facist, insensitive, illogical and so on, right? You should be at least hating yourself (your government) too, no?

America does what it thinks is right for America, why is that so hard for you to understand when that's the way that every country does it? We see your point of view, we put it to a vote, and your point of view lost, (for now anyway). When are you going to vote on it there, and then we'll see what happens there?
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The UK being about the only ally to the US is a true fact. I only wish that the US policies are more compatible so that others would join in. Unfortunately, that's not the case.

How does the world think of the country that I'm in? I don't know for sure, but I'll tell you what I think:
- it has 'first world' aspiration, but with 'third world' infrastructure;
- there are sections of the country that are racist, intolerant, violent and ill-educated;
- the state is intrusive and insensitive;
- the overall attitudes of the people are "it's not my problem, the state should deal with it" and "the state can do whatever it wants, as long as it doesn't bother me".

In short, if you want to, you can say that I hate the country that I'm living and working in.

It is all very well that the US does what it wants. However, you should consider that the weight and influence of your country on the world stage. Whether others like it or not, what the US does has a large impact around the world. To do only what you want to do rather than seeking consensus with friends and allies is just selfish.

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November 21, 2004

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I almost find it humorous that the Russians are going to roll out some sort of new strategic nuclear deterent.
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I don't know about you, but it is hardly a humorous matter... The Russian (if I understand what you're referring to) are looking at new strike weapon, not a deterrent.

According to what I've read (and I believe it has only scratched the surface so far and my reading source isn't extensive on this subject matter) is that conventional ICBMs have very predictable trajectory paths once they re-enter the atmosphere. This is a fact/assumption that all proposed US missile defence systems (from Reagan to Bush II) have depended upon. The Russians' 'bright spark' is to give the falling ICBMs the ability to manoeuvre and change their trajectories... Or something along those lines.

I thought about that and it think it is a very clever idea, but may have a problem.

It is a clever idea because of the speed of re-entry is so high that using other conventional means to intercept the falling projectile can only rely on one parameter: (angular) velocity - speed and direction. However, if the falling projectiles are given the ability to change their directions, the speed involved may suddenly make existing methods of interception useless and allow the ICBMs evade the defence network. Very clever!

However, it may be prohibitively expensive to develop. Russia is the world's 2nd large oil producer, but the rest of the economy hasn't caught up with the oil industry. Unless oil price stays at a very high level for a prolonged period, I don't really see where the money for the project is going to come from. May be there's something in Russia that I don't get (I spend 2.5 years looking at Russia and Russian companies between 2001 and 2003), but I believe (as we speak) this is a dream rather than reality.

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November 22, 2004

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I'm sorry, I don't believe that for a second. And if you do right now, it's because you aren't thinking straight. On D-Day your countrymen liberated the first structure (it still has the British Airborne nude lady astride the Pegasus on the side of the building I'm sure) which stands on one side of the "Pegasus Bridge" which had to be captured to make sure that the German tanks wouldn't be able to cross. And "luck" was with those glider riders that night. I hope you've been there in Normandy to see that, because that's what your country is all about, and nothing can ever change that.

And that's what it took to defeat the major Totalitarian forces around the World. Brave people who were willing to give everything for what they believed was right. Go and seek out the last of the soldiers that were there on that day, and then you'll understand more. Talk is just talk. But everything that came before has a reason, even if you can't see it just right now.
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First of all, on D-Day, my parents and their families were enduring their third year of Japanese occupation. Do you know how is like to live under occupation? Do you have any idea what it is like to have you’d consider as liberty, equality and freedom completely removed from you? You talked about defeating totalitarian forces, do you know what it meant to have to survive under an ‘ultranationalist’ occupation force? My parents and my grand-parents lived under that.

Do you know how it like to live in an enclave under the shadow of the largest communist country was like? A newly emerged and victorious communist army who continuously threatened to march across the border and rip up the world you come to know and love, just because they could? My folks grew up in that environment.

Do you know how painful it is to see the human rights gradually eroded by a territory’s new political masters? Do you know how painful it is to be lectured by these political masters that ‘being patriotic’ is to ‘not criticize’ these political masters and go along with their subversive rule? My folks and my extended family live under that very environment.

I’m incredibly grateful of the fact that I’ve never experienced occupation and I’m full of gratitude that I was born in Western Europe and obtained an EU passport. I’m thankful that the world is not what some nightmare scenario developed in ‘alternative histories’ and that the Allies were ultimately victorious against the Axis. And above all, I’m humbled by the enormous human sacrifices that those who left their loved ones behind and answered their calls. However, if you want to refer to history, can you justify what the Powers did to Imperial China? Can you justify the Unequal Treaties signed between 1842 and 1910? Can you justify the invasions, threats to the rulers, interferences in and of politics and pillaging of another country?

I don’t think I need to be lectured about liberty, freedom and democratic values. Just in case you accuse me of not caring about histories outside of my ethnic origin, I just want to inform you that I’ve read extensively on WWII (one of my favorite is Carlo D'Este’s biography of General George S. Patton) and history in general.

If you want to go back into history, I can drag all the baggage you can bare along with me. However, I’m prepared to largely let by-gone be by-gone and start with a clean page. Otherwise, we’d be living in a continuous cycle of injustices and retributions. I’m not looking for apologies, all I hope is that some kind of acknowledgment that some things had happened and they were not necessarily the right things, as measured against standards of behavior, past and present.

Referring to the post that you replied to, there are a lot of things that I’m unhappy with the country that I happened to be living in. There are many aspects of political and sociological developments that I find very hard to accept. Tony Blair’s original justification for invading Iraq was that Saddam had WMDs and he was an imminent threat to the world. I never believed this line of reasoning for a second. The world pretty much had Iraq ‘ring-fenced’. Additionally, weapons inspection was appearing to be progressing and no WMDs were found up to the date of the invasion. My question is/was: Why weren’t the weapons inspectors allowed to finish their jobs? Nevertheless, the invasion took place and Saddam was removed. Yet, there were no WMDs? The whole justification of invading Iraq, at least that was given by the British government turned out to be flawed. Saddam’s Iraq was not a threat to the UK nor the world.

To add to my disgusts in the social and political development of the country, I’m now paying for a war that I don’t believe in and there is no justification, at least not the way it was originally sold to me (not that I ever bought it). To add insult to injury, the UK is not exactly functioning like a well-oiled machine. The money that is currently spent on military deployments and munitions and the increased cost of crude oil as a result of the instability (there are other reasons for increased oil prices, but Iraq has been the main feature in the past 19 months) can easily be spent on things that the UK desperately needs: schools, hospitals, police, public transport, etc. I won’t complain if this was a country oozing excess money and we don’t know what to do with it, but we’re not.

I don’t have a problem with giving up my self-interests for what is ‘right’, or whatever ‘right’ is being sold to us by the politicians. However, what was sold to me, and the rest of the UK, turned out to be a big lie.

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November 22, 2004

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I think this is the critical point for this whole discussion, regarding positive or negative views of the US.
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Dude, you've taken the complete wrong end of the stick.

The first five paragraphs of my post was made in reference to Hong Kong and China. Trust me, telling people to be 'patriotic' is not just Bush/neo-con thing. The Chinese Communists are keen to whip up nationalistic vigor in the country also - that's about the only way to keep the country together, and keep Hong Kong in check.

I've written a rather pathetic little page with that reference in mind. (See 'Love thy country' part of the page).

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November 23, 2004

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I do think that often people take the positive things the US does for granted and focus on the negatives, the screw ups, and the mistakes. I also think people assign motivations to the US that it simply does not possess. The US, as a whole, does not have any aspirations of dominating the Middle East (the invasion of Iraq is more a byproduct of the peculiar American view of security, but that is another discussion).

However, one must never mistake criticism of a particular policy as criticism of the country as a whole, and one must certainly never confuse criticism of a policy with a lack of patriotism.

When people say they have issues with American foreign policy, they (usually) do not mean all of American foreign policy, just certain (very visible) parts of it. Of course these criticisms are going to be more common than praise for the parts they like, people complain about what they dislike and take what they like for granted. It is just the way things work. To be honest, I think anyone would be hard pressed to argue that there are not areas of foreign policy where the US could do better.

Ultimately, I think that concerning ourselves with how those in other countries view us bennefits the US. I personally have been rather upset with the current administration for not taking proper action in Liberia (the Marines were right off shore, and all sides were asking for them to come in) and for not acting more forcefully and quickly in Darfur, not just because of the humanitarian cost of American inaction, but also because these were chances to remind people around the world why they like us, why people look to the United States when things go bad.

That said, European foreign policy has plenty of problems as well, and it is important to look at American foreign policy in context. A very good book on this subject (in my opinion) is Of Paradise and Power: American and Europe in the New World Order by Robert Kagan. Explains not just the European attitudes towards America, but also the American attitude towards Europe (indignity that Europe is sitting lazily while American takes care of things, et cetera). Nice and short as well.
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I could remember there was a time when my family and I used to listen to every word the American President said, every action he had and every foreign policy his administration proposed. I grew up in 80s (meaning: my teenage years) and Ronald Reagan was the nearest person/thing there was to God. I liked George Bush Sr. also. I thought (and still think) those two Presidents were really on the ball.

I have to say, as an outsider, I only saw the visible part of the American foreign policies. However, back in those days, we (read: anyone who wasn't a Communist) were fighting the 'Evil Empire'. It was easy to distinguish friend and foe.

Looking around those who are/were driving US policies or are/were advising Bush Jr., I started to think: these guys are using the same old policies as they did back in the days when the world was fighting Communism. Can this approach still work? Yes, the world is dangerous place, but is it as dangerous as it has been made out to be? (Ref: rmn's earlier post)

There was an excellent three-part series on the BBC, The Power of Nightmares, which explored how fear has been used a tool to 'energize' a population towards a common goal, in the shape of a hidden enemy. (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) You may think it's a lot of old bull and this just the kind of things Europeans would argue for. It is almost like The Matrix where the illusion is so convincing, so believable that people would choose to believe the illusion rather than the reality.

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November 22, 2004

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Not sure if that clears things up any.
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Yes, absolutely. Thanks for taking time to go through all that.

It is partly my own problem: the country that I happen to reside in (and hold a passport) is not necessarily where all my attention (loyalty) is focus on. On the other hand, the place of my ethnic origin is thousands of miles and culturally so different to what I've grew up in (and gotten used to). I'm stuck on 'no-man's land'.


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