“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Nato's Straw House

The quick take on NATO is not promising. Since the false ending of the Cold War the most important NATO undertaking has been in Afghanistan, but other than the Germans fascinated by skulls the war has not been conducted with any fire in the NATO belly. The odds of NATO lasting in Afghanistan, till a win, are not good.

Georgia is another matter. Do not hold your breath waiting for Georgia to get into NATO. NATO is not what we hoped it would be. Whether NATO has built a straw house or one of sticks, it sure ain't brick.

The charade may as well stop here. Expansion to Soviet borders is pointless.
We have returned to “spheres of influence” and "balance of power." Get used to it.

If Nato won't fight, what's it for?
Tuesday, August 19, 2008, 10:33 AM GMT [General]

NATO is meeting in summit at Brussels. Sixty years after the alliance was signed, can anyone tell me what it's for?

The revival of Russian revanchism might seem to answer that question. Except that NATO has been conspicuous by its absence from the Georgian conflict. Let's conjecture that Russia tried something similar in a NATO state. Say it moved troops into Latvia following inter-communal rioting. (It wouldn't declare war, of course. No one ever declares war these days.) Say that, as in Georgia, it agreed to remove its forces but somehow didn't quite get round to pulling them out. Does anyone really believe that this would trigger an all-out NATO counter-offensive? That Turkish troops would surge up through Georgia to harry Russia's south? That the Norwegian and Icelandic navies would blockade Archangel? That American and Canadian and British and Belgian forces would be dispatched to relieve the Baltic States?

It seems likely that that a Soviet attack on West Germany during the Cold War would indeed have triggered a military response. Certainly the possibility was strong enough that the USSR never took the risk. In that sense, NATO was a triumphant success. But is it still the best possible vehicle for the advancement of its members' collective interests?

I ask the question with genuine regret. In the days when NATO had an obvious purpose, I was one of its biggest supporters. As a teenager, I was a member of an organisation called Peace Through NATO, which used to hold debates against CND supporters. Our side would always begin by smugly reminding the CNDers that it was thanks to the nuclear deterrent that we were free to hold such debates at all. How tiresome they must have found us.

The end of the Cold War removed NATO's foundational rationale. In order to find itself a new role, the alliance took to expanding rapidly. But, in doing so, there is a danger that it has made a fiction of Article V: the clause that treats an attack on one member as an attack on all.

I hope I'm wrong. I'd certainly be in favour of fighting for the freedom of the Baltics. Britain did so once before. The only direct clash between our Armed Services and the Red Army was in Estonia in 1918. We lost a number of sailors, who were buried locally. When the Soviets annexed Estonia, they dynamited every monument that dated from the independence period. But the graves of the British sailors were kept hidden and tended by local patriots. They are still there. I hope the British would fight again. But would the rest?


  1. For some reason the Baltics have a special place in my heart too, though I don't know why, as I've never been there. Just cheering for the little guy I quess. I hope Ukraine gets in NATO as well, remembering what I've read about how they were treated by unca Joe.

  2. A split with Maverick's take on War & Peace, before he is even nominated, let alone elected?

    What may be the most inportant foreign policy decision of our time, and Maverick is on the "wrong" side, aye?

    With Maverick, Georgia will obtain "Special Relationship" status, the President don't need no stinkin' Treaties.

  3. It's that they don't wear Turbans, stinky robes, and chop people's heads off, al-bob.
    DELTA TOWNSHIP, Michigan (AP) -- Michigan authorities say a shoplifting suspect died after being crushed in a trash compactor where she was hiding.

    The Eaton County sheriff's department said two women fled a Lansing-area TJ Maxx discount store after spraying a security guard with Mace.

    A deputy found one of the women behind a trash compactor.

    Deputies say the woman wouldn't say where the other woman was hiding.
    (better outed than compacted)

    Shortly afterward, authorities got a call about a woman trapped in the trash compactor.

    Tyree Monique Tate of Delta Township was pulled from the machine by rescuers and taken to a hospital, where the 26-year-old later died.

  4. Doug: Shortly afterward, authorities got a call about a woman trapped in the trash compactor.

    Did she live in a trailer court? Was she white?

  5. McCain, battling to carve an opening on the economy, meanwhile flew to a Gulf of Mexico oil rig 220 kilometers (130 miles) off New Orleans to demand expanded offshore drilling.

    "Senator Obama opposes new drilling, he said it won't solve our problem and that it's 'not real' -- he is wrong and the American people know it," the Arizona senator said.

    "The nation is sending 700 billion dollars every year overseas to (oil-exporting) countries that do not like us very much. When I am president that is going to stop," he said.

    Mav On Economy

  6. "The nation is sending 700 billion dollars every year overseas to (oil-exporting) countries that do not like us very much. When I am president that is going to stop," he said.

    McCain would stop it by taking the oil and keeping the 700 large. Obama would stop it by making those countries like us.

  7. They don't wanna be like us.

    Oh wait, you mean like as in care about us. Not too sure about that one either.

  8. whit said...
    "Expert warns,A large US Bank could fail"

    No time to actually read the link tonight whit but I'll try tomorrow. I had a guy trying to be my "investment adviser" buy my lunch last week. He had a previous career making and selling investment vehicles...Structured...Investment...ah SIV's I said. Anyway I digress. He predicted the failure of about 100 US banks, Indymac being the first.

    hold on to your hats!

  9. Part of the unease stemmed from comments in Singapore by former IMF chief economist Kenneth Rogoff. He said it was not just mid-sized US banks which were likely to fail in the coming months.

    "We're going to see a whopper, we're going to see a big one, one of the big investment banks or big banks."

    After the failure of Bradford & Bingley's cash call, any sign of further banking woes is a major concern. So HBOS has lost 15.75p to 283.75p - not helped by WestLB cutting from buy to add - while Barclays was 16.25p lower at 326.5p.

    Warning Hits Shares

  10. What's the deal with NATO and integrated command structures and troops, etc. I don't really know. Kind of 26 different groups isn't it?

  11. When General Petraeus becomes head of US Central Command this fall, he will add Afghanistan to his portfolio of responsibilities. Many had feared that the Afghanistan mission could suffer under Petraeus in his new role since he might favor the Iraq mission, for which he was chief architect.

    But he has already begun to ponder what can be done in Afghanistan, sources say.

    "Petraeus is absolutely thinking hard about Afghanistan," says an officer who is knowledgeable about Petraeus's thinking but didn't want to be named due to the sensitive nature of the issue. "It would be criminal if he wasn't.

    Afghanistan Plan

  12. I don't know how Petraeus could hold his temper in that hearing before the Senators, with that bitch Hillary saying she'd have to have a willing suspension of disbelief, or whatever phrase she used, to believe his testimony. Smart ass bitch.

  13. Called him a liar, basically.

  14. 43 are killed in suicide bombing in Algeria

    A suicide bomber drove a car full of explosives into a line of applicants at an Algerian police academy yesterday, killing at least 43 people in the deadliest terror attack to jolt this energy-rich U.S. ally since the 1990s.

    Witnesses said that the explosion in the town of Les Issers, about 35 miles east of Algiers, tore a 3-foot-deep crater in the road, ripped off parts of the police academy's roof, and damaged much of its facade and nearby buildings.

    Iraqis who worked for Poland offered asylum or payments

    Poland's prime minister says that his country will offer asylum or a $40,000 payment to any Iraqi working for its military or police in Iraq.

    Prime Minister Donald Tusk said that his government approved the plan yesterday.

    President of Afghanistan to run for re-election

    President Hamid Karzai said yesterday that he would run for re-election next year in hopes of finishing a job that he said he hasn't yet completed.

    In a candid admission of some of his failures after four years in office, Karzai said that Afghanistan does not yet have a functioning government, corruption remains rampant, and the Afghan people "still suffer massively" in the fight against terrorism.

    Wire Report

  15. Armageddon scholars have overlooked Psalm 83 New Theory Says

    I got the time. I ought to write up an Armegeddon book. Get in on the prophesy money. But how would I look at myself in the mirror in the morning.

  16. Was the future of humankind decided centuries ago? Is this the end?

    Is there absolutely nothing we can do to change our fate? Are we doomed for ever?

    Are we merely characters of a tragic play? Will we live through to see the year 2013?

    Armageddon a Reality?

  17. Black Box Voting Here

    Watch dog group to keep the elections honest.

    ht: LinearThinker

  18. Ralph Waldo said, "One of the illusions of life is that the present hour is not the critical, decisive hour. Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year. No man has learned anything rightly, until he knows that every day is Doomsday."

    When the spring barley lodges in June
    When the pea weevil bursts forth in May
    When the hail hits in August
    And the rains don't come in October--


  19. According to the paper, the first challenge before the new government is to choose a new civilian president, free from any taint of corruption or complicity with past dictatorships. “The presidency must also be stripped of the special dictatorial powers that Musharraf seized for himself, including the power to suspend civil liberties and rule by decree,” added the paper.

    Pakistan’s newly elected civilian leaders must also move quickly to challenge Taliban and Al Qaeda forces — who threaten their own country’s stability — and the Pakistani intelligence and military officers who are in league with them. They must address a desperate food and fuel crisis and tackle the deeper problems of poverty, development and corruption that are feeding extremism and anti-American fury.

    Pakistan needs to send its most elite troops into the troubled frontier areas bordering Afghanistan, and needs to spend its military dollars, many of which are provided by Washington, on counterinsurgency weapons, not F-16 fighter jets bought to challenge India. The US must condition future military aid on more focused and effective Pakistani counterinsurgency efforts and carefully monitor how that aid is spent.

    Terror Links of ISI

  20. 2012 is coming up real fast. I remember when 1984 seemed a long ways away.

  21. So if it rains in Australia in October, does that mean Armageddon will only be experienced in the northern hemisphere?

    In other words, can I still hit the beach?

  22. If the abos get jobs
    And the crocodiles become tame
    If the muslims emigrate
    If the rains come in October
    And the surf is high


  23. Tongue in cheek, Bob. Some of my best friends are wimmen. :-)

  24. This does it with Bob and coke.

    Wonder if sales will dip after customers take a few sips from the new cans. Leaves an aftertaste, doesn't it?

  25. More bad news. Looking for a nice Danish cola to substitute for coke, I find this:

    Carlsberg has completed the sale of three Scandinavian soft drinks and water brands to The Coca-Cola Co.

    Wait until you see the star and crescent up on the big blue sign at your neighborhood Wal*Mart.

  26. Nite Sam.

    I was lucky growing up Linear. Not only was my mother a woman, but, in addition to mom and dad, I had a couple of wonderful aunts.

    We can't get along without the wimmen, that's for sure.

    My sister was a woman, too. And my wife. :)

  27. *)

    Now if I could figure how to put a big X across that.

  28. 2020.05.03酒店工作因武漢肺炎(COVID-19、新冠肺炎)新冠肺炎連續6天零確診,讓停業快3周的酒店舞廳業者見到曙光,期盼政府讓他們重新開門做生意。業者估計,全台至少20萬人靠八大行業酒店S維持生計,其中有數萬人是依賴店家的清潔阿姨、賣口香糖、香腸這種「艱苦人」,呼籲政府慎重考慮,在防疫得當的情況下,盡快讓八大行業酒店上班復業,給他們一條生路。台北市八大行業張姓酒店業者表示,酒店歇業,酒店PT小姐雖還能兼差傳播飯局妹,但酒店打工毫無保障,私接案子還被搶、乾洗白嫖的慘狀;另泊車少爺、幹部、經紀,這些人也都各有出路,但總不如原來穩定,至於原本薪水就不高、替代性更高的清潔阿姨,更是頓時少了一份穩定薪水;還有收保特瓶、紙箱的回收阿伯,也大受影響。張姓業者說,這些依附酒店養家餬口的艱苦人,全台少說至少20萬人,如今因政府防疫停業標準不一,酒店、舞廳歇業,他們連兼差機會都沒,只能在家喝西北風「防疫」。他自嘲,「政府的作為,是寧讓人民餓死,也不能得肺炎死。」業者有苦難言。另一劉姓舞廳業者說,會配合停業的店家,都是繳稅合法業者,八大行業若轉地下化,等同「保障非法,取締合法」,政府應讓合法業者在確保防疫規範前提下復業,反而能有效控管,若都轉入地下化,風險更大。造成全台酒店舞廳停業的北市高檔酒店女公關,疫情指揮中心日前已宣布,她的感染源不明,且沒傳染給任何人。不少業者看到這消息都納悶,「小姐結案了,我們為何歇業?何時能重開?」這是攸關20多萬八大行業從業人員共同疑惑,政府應盡速給個答案。

  29. 2020.05.11中央流行疫情指揮中心在4月9日下令,全台八大行業酒店工作有女陪侍場所無限期停業,讓倚賴八大經濟鏈的酒店上班女公關、酒店經紀、幹部、泊車小弟頓失經濟收入。本刊訪問多名在北市酒店上班的女公關,發現俗稱「酒店S」的她們,為了求生,轉攻各大KTV,跨界過起如「傳播妹」、「飯局妹」的日子。之前在「便服店」酒店上班的「艾可」(化名)說:「八大行業沒辦法上班後,酒店經紀(安排酒店PT酒女工作事宜者)就開始跟各大連鎖KTV訂包廂,我們上班的地點就從酒店變成各大KTV。」「可是KTV跟酒店打工不一樣,客人也不多,收入大概從原本每天八千元到一萬二千元,腰斬成四千元到六千元,如果有接到飯局或私人招待所的攤,收入才會跟原本的差不多。」艾可大嘆。此外,由於台北市林森北路「條通區」上百家的「日式酒店」,營業登記為「餐廳」,因此不受影響可以繼續做生意,外傳台北市的酒店停業後,許多酒店女公關轉進「日式酒店」。艾可卻狠狠打臉這個說法,「疫情蔓延後,日式酒店很多早就關門了,本地酒客根本不可能去那邊消費!」本刊日前實地走訪,果然發現以往晚間九點至十二點間擠滿人潮的「六條通」至「八條通」,大部分「日式酒店」都沒點亮招牌,連路人都寥寥無幾。