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World Politics thread

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Erotic Adventures of S, Aug 1, 2017.

  1. Invictus

    Invictus Banned

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    They're suspending "high level contacts" not contracts and that's very little since the important contacts has been more or less done through back channels since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a country the US and the UK nominally sworn to protect in exchange of denuclearization, which made keeping business as normal impossible.

    The freezing of assets is also purposefully vague and specific enough they're aimed to not actually harm the lucrative British-Russian relations. As seen:
    See? State assets are a tiny tiny irrelevant part of Russian interests in the UK.

    Russian Oligarchs connected to Putin are what should've been targeted and actual sanctions against Russia. Not this palliative measure. Russia isn't dumb enough to have critical assets for its black ops operation under its state direct ownership. That's why US sanctions, which actually work, are mostly targeting high level people and companies.
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2018
  2. vulpes

    vulpes Squib

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    Hello everyone, Russian here.
    I'll try my best to be coherent, but please excuse any mistakes I might be making (feel free to correct my grammar if you feel like it :)).

    I'm in no way a Putin supporter, but this whole spy poisoning story makes me a bit confused. Can anyone tell me if there is any proof at all that Skripal was poisoned by the Russians? Except for the "Novichok" agent, which was developed back in the 1980s - meaning that by now, every major intelligence service should have samples. Especially considering that one of the scientists who originally developed the agent - Vil Mirzayanov - lives in the USA since 1996.

    Skripal didn't run away with governmental secrets, he was swapped for another spy back in 2010. If he had had any dangerous information, he would have died quietly in Russian prison from something like "heart attack" or "pneumonia" and nobody would think of him twice. Why wait for 8 years?

    Besides, there are many different ways to kill a man. Even if someone in Kremlin suddenly decided that Skripal was still dangerous 8 years after his release, they could have killed him without using military grade nerve agents and aggravating the UK. Unless, of course, aggravating the UK was the primary aim of this attack, but I really don't see why Russia would be interested in that at the moment.

    As far as I can see, this whole spy poisoning scandal is really not in Russia's interests.

    Is there anything I'm missing?
     
  3. Blinker

    Blinker Seventh Year DLP Supporter

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    Brit here, not following the case in any detail, but I can offer impressions.

    Direct proof has not been provided, we are being offered the conclusions of the Intelligence agencies but are not given access to their evidence. Whether or not you feel this is acceptable is a matter of taste, one can feel that you shouldn't take these conclusions "on faith", or one can trust that they are competent and have good reasons for concealing their methods/sources etc.

    What is arguably more important is the background of suspicion about Russian State activity in the UK. The death of Litvinenko is still a pretty recent story, as is the pattern of mysterious deaths of many individuals with antagonistic relationships with Russia. This, in combination with the rather obscure method of killing (a nerve agent at least suggests access to, if not the support, of some pretty significant assets), gives a pretty strong prior that when someone linked to Russia gets murdered in the UK, a strong first guess is that the Russian state was involved.

    As for motive, you're right that it appears Skripal has just been living quietly in the UK, so why kill him now? Any guess is speculative, perhaps he remained in collaboration with the UK, and was tiresome, perhaps it's as a message to other potential double agents and defectors? The rather crowing Russian news coverage gloating over the "rewards of treason" certainly don't do much to deflect these accusations.

    As I say, not an expert, happy to be corrected/argued with on any of this.
     
  4. Darth_Revan

    Darth_Revan Secret Squirrel ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    To be frank, Russia's hand in this is obvious. It's just the latest in a long string of suspicious murders conducted by the Russian intelligence services.

    As for motive, it's not difficult. Russia does this occasionally in order to send a message to its own people: Betray us at your peril; we will find you and kill you.
     
  5. vulpes

    vulpes Squib

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    Seems a bit too obvious. Poisoning someone with a military grade gas developed in the USSR is like writing "Vladimir Putin killed this man" across the victim's forehead. I'm not saying Putin didn't do it - he could have - but it could have also been one of his enemies. This attack could be just as easily attributed to MI6 or anybody else looking for a reason to introduce new sanctions/confirm Russia's reputation as a nasty bully/whatever. For instance, with Russia being accused of use of chemical weapons (in a NATO member country no less), the Western coalition can easily justify a massive offensive in Syria. Just a thought.

    If it was indeed a message to defectors - why Skripal? Why now? His daughter was living in Moscow half the time, they could have assassinated her and whatever family members he had left, effectively sending out an even darker message to potential defectors, but with no reaction from the international community. Because nobody cares what happens to Russians while they are in Russia.

    And speaking of sending messages, I don't understand why ex-Russians keep dying in the UK, but not in the US, Germany or Israel. Britain is not the only country Putin's adversaries escape to, but, as far as I know, the only one with such a high death rate (please correct me if I'm wrong). Why - I have no idea. Could it have the weakest protection of all? Could MI6 be routinely meddling with things? Could it be a coincidence? From what I see, anything's possible, and Russia being a nasty bully is only one of the options.

    Nonetheless, the media I checked are taking May's claims on faith without giving any explanations about why this could have happened (except "that's what Russians do because they are evil like that") or considering other options. And I don't understand why they have that big a faith in their politicians' honesty (even though the words "politicians" and "honesty" normally shouldn't be used in the same sentence together).

    Russians having a bad reputation is the main proof I've seen so far, and bad reputations are very easy to exploit, see "Saddam Hussein and his non-existent weapons of mass destruction". I don't like the feeling of being dragged into yet another war on the basis of highly emotional accusations.
     
  6. Sauce Bauss

    Sauce Bauss Minister of Magic DLP Supporter

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    One thing to consider is that Russia has been asserting itself in order to reestablish its role as a Great Power. The narrative in the west is that the Soviet Union was defeated, whereas in Russia it was not the triumph of America but a failure internally. This dissonance between narratives led to the West feeling confident in dismissing Russia as a factor. The Atlantic had a good piece on this recently.

    One thing we've seen in Russia's actions since 2003 is a show of force. There was the invasion of Georgia, the invasion of Ukraine, the assassination of Litvinenko, the subversion and recruitment of wikileaks. Hell, look at Putin's recent announcement of a nuclear cruise missile that can purportedly defeat all existing interception systems. Why would Russia announce this, along with a dozen other black projects, publicly? MAD is still a factor in play, so what strategic goal is achieved?

    It's about deterrence, about sending a message. It's about reminding the West that Russia is a power that cannot be disregarded. When Obama laughed in Mitt Romney's face for saying Russia was our greatest threat, you think that the Russian establishment didn't take umbrage?

    This is before getting into the messaging it sends internally, the sanctions, Russia's money laundering through the UK, or any number of the myriad connecting issues in the last fifteen years. The preponderance of evidence points towards Russia. They have the means, motive, and opportunity to act.
     
  7. Solfege

    Solfege Headmaster DLP Supporter

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    The message is, "we can reach you anytime, anywhere and there's nothing anyone can do about it." Ex-Russians keep dying in the UK because London is the original "international city" bought out by oligarchs starting in the '90s, and that's where the ex-Russians are. But Putin's reach extends far, and the occasional hit as with Mikhail Lesin in '15 has been done in DC; it really doesn't matter where. This is a trend going back at least to the late-2000s.

    Putin takes a hard view on traitors to the Russian people, especially ex-FSB defectors and the '90s oligarchs who finance opposition movements in Russia and ex-USSR countries out of the money they "stole from the Russian people." At this point he doesn't care about the international image --- Westerners never knew the real Putin anyway, not when he was a fresh-faced ex-FSB officer newly inducted to politics or when he tried to parlay across NATO lines. Ukraine shot everything to hell, but even well before that he knew the West would shape the boogeyman of their own image.

    If anything the international press and diplomatic retaliations (limited as they really are, London has always been permissive to Russian money and now Trump won't do shit) reinforce his own domestic image and popularity among his base. And keep in mind this does put London and UK in a hard place. They haven't enacted any serious retaliations to these assassinations on British soil, ever, for the sake of Russian investments and Russian-UK trade. I can tell you the US is not so reliant on that, and before Trump was perfectly happy to enforce hard-hitting sanctions (as we won't feel the pain from, say, the spigots turning off Russian gas. Not that we're complaining, the less the UK imports from Russia, the more they import from us).
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2018
  8. Johnnyseattle

    Johnnyseattle Headmaster DLP Supporter

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    Vulpes, your reasoning is pretty sound, and refreshingly civil, and you're right in that there are a lot of questions - if the person or entity in question is constraining themselves to normal behavior and relations, and how they deal with threats to their security, interests, and the rest of the world powers' (and their own citizens') perception of them.

    For the rest of the world, I think there have been more than enough examples of Vladimir Putin demonstrating that he doesn't care what people think of his methods, and that's why people are so quick to believe that as outlandish as this may seem, it's got him written all over it. Could it be another oligarch trying to throw a wrench in his power base? Sure, it's always possible. But if you live in a place where just anyone with enough money can get access to a nerve agent that makes VX look like a skincare product, well, have fun with that I guess.

    You'll be hard pressed to get anyone in America (that isn't still a trump ball-gargler, at least) to have much of a favorable image of Putin at this point, with what he's purportedly done to fuck up our country's political landscape. And obviously the U.K. has had about enough as well.

    Stranger things have happened, but Occam's Razor would seem to apply here.
     
  9. Darth_Revan

    Darth_Revan Secret Squirrel ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    There's no such thing as too obvious in this instance.

    Yes. That's the point. Remember the time they put Polonium 210 in Litvinenko's tea? They like ostentatious.

    Only if you think MI6 goes around killing its own citizens and assets for naked political gain. Which, obviously, they don't. The Brits won't even bring themselves to kill their own citizens when those citizens are fighting for ISIS.

    I get that living under the tyranny of the FSB, which kills Russians routinely in the naked pursuit of politics or corruption, might make you think the rest of us operate that way, but we don't.

    Likely they just needed to send a message and he was the next on the list, as it were.

    The murders haven't been isolated to the UK, but London is an international city, and many of the more well-off Russian defectors settled there in the post-Soviet years of the 1990s.

    USA Today has a good list of Putin allies who have died in ways ranging from the merely convenient to the outright blatant.
     
  10. ScottPress

    ScottPress The Horny Sovereign –§ Prestigious §–

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    So this isn't as gripping as Russian double agents being assassinated in London, but I figured it wasn't important enough to warrant a thread.

    This reuters snippet is the most recent thing I've been able to find in English. It only mentions Polish plans for a nuclear plant.

    This is much more informative, but it's in Polish. To summarize the main points in it, Polish PM wants to move away from coal (I support the idea, and Morawiecki seems to be less of a bitch for Kaczyński, but only because he seems to have less of a presence overall) and towards nuclear, which I also support--Poland doesn't have the energy tech expertise or money to invest in developing green power technology. We can leave innovation to others.

    The linked article also says that we might run into a problem with Germany because their new govt's coalition wants to promote green energy and wants no EU finds allocated to nuke plants, which is a problem because the new plant would cost 75 bln zlotys (~~18 bln Euros) and no one in Poland wants to lay out that kind of cash (which we should cough up imo if we want to have a nuclear plant). It's not like all of this money would be required right away. And thn Austria (also pro green energy) is the next one to take over EU leadership.

    There was a brief discussion of this in r/Polska on Reddit, where some people advocated skipping the step of nuclear energy and go straight for "new technologies", which I think is dumb. Developing new tech requires money and expertise. If we want to reduce our coal dependency, I think nuclear power is a good stepping stone.

    I don't begrudge Germany promoting technology it's investing in, but I'm a bit ticked off that this coalition agreement policy plays into "I am the EU" Germany-mode. On the other hand, Poland does get a lot of money from the EU and I can't fault someone for thinking "if we're gonna give them money, we don't want it going towards X".

    In any case, I'm for nuclear power in Poland. And if it costs us a retarded social program or two, I won't cry over the money.
     
  11. Taure

    Taure Magical Core Enthusiast ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    Hah!

    Wind and solar are far cheaper and require far less technical expertise than nuclear. The sole advantage of nuclear (as opposed to other emissions-free sources) is security of supply.

    To get an idea of the cost, the UK's under-construction Hinkley Point C is expected to cost £20.3 billion ($28.5 billion). And that's just the up front construction cost. On top of that, the government has granted the plant a subsidy in the form of a guaranteed wholesale electricity price of £92.50 per megawatt hour, which will track inflation. For reference, the subsidy now being given to wind energy generators is a guaranteed price of £57.50 per megawatt hour. So not only is nuclear much more expensive to install, it is also much more expensive to buy once it starts generating.
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2018
  12. Arthellion

    Arthellion Lord of the Banned ~ Prestige ~

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    If only we could manage fusion over fission then life would be perfect...
     
  13. Sesc

    Sesc Slytherin at Heart Moderator

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    Uh ... yeah. I was about to say. No money for renewables, but buying a nuclear power plant? That's not exactly cheap, lol.

    Not that I'm opposed to it, provided you don't buy cheap Russian junk -- the problem isn't new reactors, it's old ones that the energy companies drive way, way past their due date, because they're paid off and basically generate free cash. That's how you end up with operating reactors with fissures in the pressure tanks.

    But yeah, from a cost/benefit POV, renewables are actually quite competetive. The problem is the storage of energy to provide continuous power, rather, but even so, some 20% in the grid work just fine. I mean ... we generously gave you that access to the Baltic Sea 100 years ago. Now be generous in return, and do something with it. Buy lots of German offshore windparks :D
     
  14. Invictus

    Invictus Banned

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    Poland wants to be independent in the energy department and doesn't want to depend on Western Europe or worse, Russia. So it's doing what France and Japan did decades early. I don't expect a different end than what happened to both these nuclear programs. At best, freezings and constant worries, at worse... Fukushima.

    Hopefully Polish government dysfunctionality won't extend, like it did with the SU, to their power plants. All said and done, Nuclear always seemed to me like a fascinating if very dangerous way to obtain energy. But I just can't see any advantages is has over solar and wind long term besides "independence" which I think it doesn't work well when you're already sacrificing a big part of your sovereignty as a member of the EU.
     
  15. ScottPress

    ScottPress The Horny Sovereign –§ Prestigious §–

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    I underestimated the cost and complexity of nuclear power. I was actually expecting to be corrected, so thanks for that @Taure @Sesc

    Ah, green energy. We should build hydro plants on our giant waterfalls and on the coast where we have those huge tides, vast windfarms in our windy plains, and solar plants in our sun-baked deserts...

    Kidding. But only a bit. If nuclear would cut down our coal dependency, let's splurge. I don't see our government (current and whatever comes next) rushing to join the green energy race. We still have people opposed to nuclear on principle because Chernobyl. And we still collectively suck the coal dick, which is just sad. Bunch of dark age neophytes.
     
  16. Agayek

    Agayek Totally Sirius DLP Supporter

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    To be fair, Chernobyl is a very compelling argument for being ludicrously cautious with nuclear power.
     
  17. Sesc

    Sesc Slytherin at Heart Moderator

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  18. Innomine

    Innomine Death Eater ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    To be fair, the literal chain of events there was "lets turn off all the safety features and see what happens".
     
  19. Solfege

    Solfege Headmaster DLP Supporter

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    Indeed the industry has been ludicrously cautious in the safety technology and construction designs of new plants in the 30 years since Chernobyl. In '86 the issue was a sequence of idiotic management decisions that today would not be possible thanks to the incorporation of forcing functions.

    The risk is, as Sesc pointed out, in buying cheap junk or pushing plants well beyond (decades beyond) their phase-out dates. Fukushima Daiichi was a long shot aberration given the double whammy of a 9.0 earthquake - the aftermath of which the plant was well-equipped to handle - and a tsunami right on its heels that overwhelmed the seawall and disabled the backup diesel generators providing power to the coolant pumps. Daiichi was not made resistant to such a tsunami whereas its sister plant Daini was, such that Daini was receiving power off the electricity grid by midnight.

    The political fears of nuclear are far unfounded. The decision to idle all nuclear plants in Japan for the sake of security theatre was a massive unneeded cost to the economy in terms of fuel imports and unsustainably high electricity prices. Nor could we expect such a series of natural disasters to have hit French nuclear power: Japan is earthquake prone and an island nation to boot in a world of rising/warming ocean levels --- but there you have it, the public at large is terrible at weighing black swans and the newspapers enjoy sensational guff.
     
  20. Arthellion

    Arthellion Lord of the Banned ~ Prestige ~

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    Aye

    Everything I’ve read about nuclear power lately indicates that it is perhaps our best source of energy we have and that with modern tech we can avoid the safety issues quite easily.

    It’s only fear mongering and the coal/oil companies standing in the way.
     
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