132 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. @Ivor
    I realise that your standard approach to someone disagreeing with you is to double down, but engaging in even more partisan Cold War rhetoric 26 years after it ended doesn’t make it less ridiculous.

  2. @James

    My apologies to you and others for my needlessly aggressive language in my post of October 17th, 2016 at 23:07.

    Apology accepted. Thankyou.

  3. @Ivor
    Your #94

    I think you’ve got the tense wrong, I asked if the Russians actually did place some missiles in Cuba, not if they intended too. Of course they intended to. However, I shouldn’t have described Kruschev’s action as a “backdown” which has intensions of surrender, but rather a “backoff” which has intensions of rational response to a bad situation.

    But then you say: “They got nothing.”

    And that is sort of true: the Russians got nothing in Cuba, and the Americans ended up with nothing in Turkey – a great mutual cold-war nothing. Well, except that we got “Dr Strangelove: How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Bomb” which I guess they didn’t get to see in Moscow movie theaters.

    But what about Italy ? Did America retain missiles in Italy ? Or anywhere else close to the Soviet Union ?

  4. @Tim Macknay

    In some very real senses, the Cold War has never ended. Or at least, new Cold Wars have started up. Great Powers are always jockeying for geostrategic power and this goes on whether or not they have roughly the same or very different economic systems and whether or not they have roughly the same or very different political systems. John Mearsheimer has the basics right in this arena of theory, IMO, though I disagree with some of the detail of his theories.

    Mearsheimer is the leading proponent of “offensive neorealism”. It’s worth looking it up and considering the theory. It’s a descriptive theory of geostrategy and realpolitik in the priomary instance but then he does go on to develop prescriptions for action to take into account these realities as he sees them. He comes across as a hawk and perhaps he is, but he is at least a realistic and mentally stable hawk and they are a hell of a lot less dangerous, again IMO, than unrealistic, stupid or mentally unbalanced hawks – and there are a lot of the latter in the USA. The Russkies and Chinese are actually more realistic in the main. Being 2nd or 3rd great power actually enforces more disciplined and realistic geostrategic thinking I believe, though there are counter-examples of course. (Thinking of the Third Reich and the Japan of the Rising Sun flag.)

    Mearsheimer states his theory is a socio-political-geographical (my words perhaps) theory, basically, and that it is not a deterministic or certain theory. He maintains that larger or “macro” general processes or developments predictions based on his theory will be right “about 75% of the time”.

  5. @Ivor

    Flinging labels does not change history.

    True enough. And redundant statements don’t make obsolete Cold War rhetoric less ridiculous either. 😉

  6. @GrueBleen

    The Soviet Union had nuclear armed submarines parked just off the United States until the end of the Cold War.

    The United States had nukes aimed at the USSR throughout NATO Europe.

    Those were the days.

  7. @Ikonoclast

    In some very real senses, the Cold War has never ended. Or at least, new Cold Wars have started up.

    Certainly, the end of the Cold War didn’t mean the end of great power rivalry. The Mearsheimer perspective sounds interesting and I will look it up.

  8. @Kolchak
    Your #7

    Yeah, and Operation Head Start gave the go-ahead to 8 years of Operation Chrome Dome (and only 5 instances of crashes of nuke-armed B-52s in that time – at least according to Wikipedia).

    Heady days indeed.

  9. @Tim Macknay
    Your #95

    I can’t say I find either the Hague Convention of 1907 or the Kellogg-Briand Pact convincing as either the philosophical or legal precedent for the Nuremberg trials. Indeed as best I can see, both of them disappeared without trace – or, to quote Hamlet, they were “more honor’d in the breach than the observance”.

    And indeed it was “victor’s justice” (as also was the Tokyo Tribunal) because there was never any intention of charging any allied personnel with any misdemeanours – though I would welcome any evidence that this was not so, if you can point to such. I think your own statement that “once the Nuremberg trials were completed there was no international tribunal in existence with competence to deal with allegations of that nature up until the 1990s” is telling.

  10. @Tim Macknay
    Your #2

    Re James: “Apology accepted. Thankyou”.

    Well I would have accepted too if I thought there was anything that needed apology. I simply take overly “aggressive” communication as indicative of a complete lack of any underlying veracity.

    But James’s post did remind me of some considerations regarding “lies”. After all, we have a wonderful pronouncement passionately believed by both George Costanza and John Winston Howard: “It isn’t a lie if you believe it.” Howard most famously in the “children overboard” scam.

    However, it is a position I’d kinda unthinkingly accepted until an interaction with Club Troppo’s Paul Frijters who basically made the proposition that (in my interpretation, anyway): if you put out something as the truth, it doesn’t matter whether you believe it or not, what matters is whether or not you’ve fact checked it enough to verify it. If you haven’t sought to honestly verify your proposition, then it is a lie.

    I think I’m much happier with that idea. In short, no matter what he “believed”, Howard did, in fact, lie about the children overboard.

    I do wonder though, from time to time, just how many of my own “beliefs” I have now convicted myself of lying about.

  11. @GrueBleen

    I can’t say I find either the Hague Convention of 1907 or the Kellogg-Briand Pact convincing as either the philosophical or legal precedent for the Nuremberg trials.

    Well with respect, they did form a precedent, specifically for the principle that initiating or prosecuting wars of aggression were unlawful. The lack of consistent adherence to the treaties doesn’t mean they are not a source of international law – indeed the lack of consistent enforcement is something of a feature of international law. Some legal philiosophers take the view that for this reason, international law is not actually ‘law’ at all. Others counter that, given the lack of enforcement institutions, the remarkable thing about international law is not that it is often disobeyed but rather that it is frequently obeyed. It’s also the case that when States take actions that would generally be regarded as violations of international law (such as the 2003 invasion of Iraq, for example) they nonetheless try to establish legal justifications for doing it. The US went to considerable efforts to try to obtain Security Council consent for the invasion of Iraq, and when that failed, fell back on the more dubious claim that the invasion was authorised by existing Security Council resolutions.

    The ‘victor’s justice’ problem has plagued efforts to hold individuals liable for war crimes since before the Nuremberg trials. The International Criminal Court is intended among other things to rectify this, but it still remains to be seen how effective it will be. It is, as you say, ‘telling’ that the USA, Russia and China have not yet signed up to it. On the other hand, it is encouraging that other significant powers that are known for their willingness to engage in military action, like Britain and France, are participants.

  12. @Tim Macknay
    Your #15

    Well so I don’t have to make a case against it based on its history, viz that the 3rd meeting scheduled for 1914 was postponed to 1915 and then abandoned altogether because … because of World War I – an utterly disgusting piece of brainless Great Game colonial aggression if ever there was one. And one in which that totally humane weapon of civilised war – mustard gas – was used with happy abandon (I was going to say “gay abandon but there you go).

    I don’t disagree that some prior historical thought and even some occasional effort, has been put into “civilising” war – given that our species has never been able to actually stop engaging in it – but it would take a lot to persuade me that Nuremberg was anything but a mostly cynical exercise in “victor’s justice”.

    I confess that I have a huge problem coming to grips with the idea that somehow every single conflict – big, small or medium – has always been an occasion to praise ourselves for our “heroism”. If we can ever get past that reflex idiocy then maybe there will be hope for civilisation.

  13. Interesting to see that the TVA’s Watts Bar nuclear power plant is finally coming online. It cost 4.7 billion dollars and will power 4.5 million homes. Judging by past experience it will provide power for 50 – 80 years at an availability factor of around 80% or more. Thats $1,000 per household for cheap, reliable power.

    Contrast this with a solar farm near our home. It will provide power for 3,000 homes and costs around 35 million dollars. Of course the actual costs are hard to find ( surprise, surprise ) and the availability factor is never mentioned, nor the subsidies paid for the power supplied. The panels will also only last maybe 30 years with slowly reduced efficiency. That works out to about $10,000 per home for expensive, unreliable power.

  14. @Joe Blow
    Well, it’s better than a new coal plant. A couple of quibbles, though – as I understand it, the $4.7 billion price tag is only for the unit 2 reactor (the one just coming into service). The entire plant, with both reactors, cost more on the order of $12 billion (according to “Nuclearstreet. com”). Also, according to Wikipedia, the plant will supply enough power for around 1.5 million homes rather than 4.5 million. The Wikipedia figure is more consistent with the usual estimate for a plant of that size (around 2.3 gigawatts). On those figures the cost is more on the order of $8,000 per household. Just sayin’.

  15. ‘I don’t disagree that some prior historical thought and even some occasional effort, has been put into “civilising” war – given that our species has never been able to actually stop engaging in it – but it would take a lot to persuade me that Nuremberg was anything but a mostly cynical exercise in “victor’s justice”.’

    Wikipedia says this about ‘victor’s justice’.
    ‘The label “victor’s justice” is a situation in which an entity participates in carrying out “justice” on its own basis of applying different rules to judge what is right or wrong for their own forces and for those of the (former) enemy. Advocates generally charge that the difference in rules amounts to hypocrisy and leads to injustice.’

    At the following link, you can find the section of the Nuremberg judgement which describes the crimes of which Ernst Kaltenbrunner was convicted:
    http://avalon.law.yale.edu/imt/judkalt.asp

    To show that this was a hypocritical exercise of victor’s judgement, you would have to show that there were people on the Allied side who did the same sorts of things that Kaltenbrunner was convicted of doing, without the same sort of rules being applied to them.

    Who did you have in mind?

  16. Tim Macknay
    Thanks for that. Interesting that the solar plant is 13MW or roughly 1/200th the size of the nuclear plant. Multiply the 3,000 homes the solar plant will supposedly supply by 200 and you get only 600,000 homes for the same size plant. So the solar plant will have to be nearly 3 times bigger to serve your conservative 1.5 million homes. That is 600 times the cost of the 13MW plant or about 21 billion dollars. Around double the highly inflated cost of Watts Bar. And it will only last maybe half as long before needing replacement.

    Just saying’

  17. @Tim Macknay
    Your #18

    Ok, so you agree with Blow Joe that the running cost of the nuclear installation is $zero. And that the cost of disposing or otherwise treating the radioactive waste is $zero. And that the eventual cost of ‘demolishing’ the nuclear plant at the end of its lifetime is $zero. And that the cost of building and maintaining the electricity delivery grid for the much larger area supplied by the nuclear plant is $zero.

  18. @J-D
    Your #19

    Very literal minded as usual J-D. So, you reckon that unless I can find a one-for-one match between somebody convicted at Nuremberg and somebody on the Allied side not convicted at Nuremberg, then it just can’t be “victor’s justice”.

  19. @GrueBleen

    That depends on what you mean by ‘one-for-one match’. The explanation I quoted from Wikipedia (which of course you’re not obliged to accept; if you have a better explanation I’m keen to find out more about it) says nothing about exactitude of matching.

    If the crimes of which the defendants at Nuremberg were convicted are described with sufficient particularity, it’s obvious that nobody else committed exactly the same crimes; on the other hand, if they are described with sufficient generality, there are almost certainly people on the Allied side responsible for generally similar deeds. The interesting question is about how close the match is, but it’s impossible to get any idea of that if you won’t first give at least some indication of who on the Allied side you think was guilty of what. Do you think that were crimes of which Churchill was guilty which were relevantly similar to the charges in the Nuremberg indictment? or Roosevelt? or Stalin? or Eisenhower, Zhukov, Ismay, Attlee? or who? Politicians, bureaucrats, commanding officers? And whoever you’re thinking of — or even if you don’t have specific individuals in mind — what are the crimes you think were similar to the crimes of the Nazi leaders? It’s not persuasive if you suggest that Allied crimes were similar to Nazi crimes but you’ve given no thought to which Allied crimes you’re referring to — or if you’ve given no thought to which Nazi crimes you’re referring to, which is why I cited the judgement on Kaltenbrunner as one possible reference point, just for illustration. I don’t insist on that particular reference point, though. I just think some reference points would be a reasonable expectation.

  20. @Joe Blow
    I made a mistake earlier – Wikipedia says the Watts Bar plant powers 1.2 million homes, not 1.5 million like I said earlier. But it only changes the cost figure slightly – bringing it to $10,000 per home using your method, or on par with the estimate you gave for the 13MW solar plant.

    But to be honest, I’m not really sure what you’re trying to say with your numbers for the hypothetical 1.5-million-home solar plant. I don’t find it particularly implausible that a PV power plant of that size might be more expensive than the Watts Bar power plant. But what I do wonder about is why you gave such off-the-mark figures for the Watts Bar plant in your original comment. It only took one Google search and a couple of minutes’ reading to arrive at the conclusion that your figures were almost certainly erroneous and grossly underestimated the cost of the Watts Bar plant. And what do you mean by the ‘highly inflate cost of Watts Bar’? In case you missed it I suppose I should reiterate that the $12 billion cost figure came from Nuclearstreet .com, which is not an anti-nuclear source. So where did your incorrect figures come from? And why should I regard your figures for the unidentified solar plant as accurate, given that the figures for the nuclear plant clearly weren’t, even setting aside the oddity of comparing the cost of a 2.3 GW power plant with a 13MW one?

  21. @Tim Macknay
    Your #24

    Good, because elsewise I agree with your critique of J.B. entirely. Nonetheless, ProfQ has been over … and over and over … the nuclear option many times, but still the world’s Joes Blow in to spout their nuclear truthering. There’s just no way of holding them down.

  22. @J-D
    Your #23

    Well, you’ve built up a fine story to tell yourself about “victor’s Justice”, J-D. It has absolutely nothing to do with me though.

    But just a couple of things, anyway: “It’s not persuasive …”

    Good, because I wasn’t trying to be persuasive of anybody and especially you, so, how can I be persuasive enough to persuade you of that ?

    “I don’t insist on that particular reference point, though.”

    Good, though you can insist away to your heart’s content if you like, I won’t take any more notice than I am now.

    Nonetheless let me try to help you just a little: below I’ll quote a couple of paragraphs from the Wikipedia article titled Allied war crimes during World War II – you can Google it if you like (so I don’t get ‘mediated’ for a URL link).

    At the end of World War II, many trials of Axis war criminals took place, most famously the Nuremberg Trials and Tokyo Trials. However, in Europe, these tribunals were set up under the authority of the London Charter, which only considered allegations of war crimes committed by persons who acted in the interests of the European Axis nations.

    There were a number of war crimes involving Allied personnel that were investigated by the Allied powers and that led in some instances to courts-martial. Some incidents alleged by historians to have been crimes under the law of war in operation at the time were, for a variety of reasons, not investigated by the Allied powers during the war, or they were investigated and a decision was taken not to prosecute.

    There you are, enjoy !

  23. @GrueBleen

    But just a couple of things, anyway: “It’s not persuasive …”

    Good, because I wasn’t trying to be persuasive of anybody and especially you, so, how can I be persuasive enough to persuade you of that ?

    Then it’s a mystery to me what you were trying to do. I can only guess wildly. Perhaps you were trying to make up stories. ‘The Nuremberg trials were an example of victor’s justice’ was a story you made up? — maybe that would fit.

  24. Mr Blow, unfortunately nuclear is almost entirely about preventing climate action using renewables, with an absence of commitment to preventing it using nuclear. It primarily function is as a rhetorical blunt instrument for attacking renewable energy and ‘green’ politics and as long as the ‘natural’ political home of nuclear advocacy – the LNP – is staunchly opposed to strong climate action, that irreconcilable contradictory combination will prevent most of the existing support base for nuclear in Australia – and I think support, or more correctly absence of strong opposition, encompasses a large proportion of voters – cannot be mobilised effectively, and it will continue to not be an available option. If those who (allegedly) prefer to tackle climate change with nuclear aren’t willing to fight for it, expecting those who are optimistic about renewables to do so seems overly optimistic. But my impression is that you are not so committed to strong climate action that you are here to demand the LNP step up and fight for it.

    Whilst a shift to commitment to strong climate action from the LNP would increase practical support for the nuclear option it would also result in greater and more consistent political support for renewables.

  25. @J-D
    Your #28

    Then it’s a mystery to me what you were trying to do.

    I know, J-D, I know. Everything is just a mystery to you. That must make your life just so incredibly exciting. But here, just for you: “Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.”

    I can only guess wildly.

    Indeed so. And wildly your guesses are always at the very wrong end of sense and sensibility.

  26. @Julie Thomas
    Your #31

    And fight anyone who does agree, mmkay ! Watched the Russell Crowe vid though – thanks for the pointer. Just what is Crowe supposed to be famous for, again ? Other than being one of many Enzed born Ozzies, that is.

    I kinda wish I could still decode what the South Park characters are saying, though. I used to think I could when I watched SP back a decade or so ago.

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