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Old 03-15-2016, 10:02 PM   #1
Jerichi
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Graveler Global Politics

I really hate domestic American politics, especially around election season, and I am pretty burnt out about talking about the West.

Can we have a big picture global politics/international relations/geopolitics thread?

I know we already have an ISIS thread but there's more than just radical Islamic terrorism happening in the world right now (and they're not the only game in town after all).

...so let's talk about radical Islamic terrorism!

Turkey's suffered two pretty horrific bombings in as many months and there was apparently an attack in Côte D'Ivoire that Wikipedia informed me of perpetrated allegedly by an Al-Qaeda splinter. And there's Boko Haram still at large in West Africa and the Houthis are still holding Yemen hostage.

What does UPN think about radical Islam? Are they gaining any ground? Do you think their recruitment methods are at all effective? Do you think the many independently operating groups are a boon or detrimental?

(plz suggest other topics as well radical Islam is just an easy topic)
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Old 03-19-2016, 05:49 AM   #2
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Old 03-19-2016, 11:07 AM   #3
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There are modern German politicians that aren't Angela Merkel?
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Old 03-19-2016, 11:41 AM   #4
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Not any more!
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Old 03-19-2016, 12:08 PM   #5
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So ok let's grab the low hanging fruit. Terrorism and other activities which the news likes to throw undet that banner coming out of the Middle East and various parts of Africa will not stop until those places are econonically strong, politically well earablished and a meaningful part of the international regime. These things will probably take 50 years to happen.

The war on terror is not really that important. This stuff would be happening either way, we just wouldn't be paying any attention. Religion isn't really that important either.
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Old 03-19-2016, 12:41 PM   #6
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Political affairs are complicated. I feel like I'm about to throw a massive ball into the discussion. But it's only one ball, and needs to be addressed.

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Terrorism [...] will not stop until [so-called "terrorist strongholds"] are economically strong, politically well established and a meaningful part of the international regime.
Let's just say you're right, flat out, no getting derailed. (And fwiw I largely agree with what you've said.) Let's zone in on the economically strong part.

Where do you see Saudi Arabia in 100 years if -- if -- within 100 years we've moved away entirely from dependence on petroleum outside of petrochemicals? (In other words, pharmaceuticals, plastics, and other industries that need petroleum as material rather than as a fuel to be burned away for energy -- these industries will still be present and still demand petroleum. But the scale is a full order of magnitude less than the demand for petroleum as fuel source in the present day.)

Many of the countries in the Middle East were bedouin backwaters before the 20th century. And during the past hundred years they've, as far as I am aware, spent their money on opulence and shows of opulence and little else. We don't see groundbreaking biomedical research coming out of Saudi Arabia. We don't see world-class automobiles coming out of Iraq. We don't see the world's best bang-for-your-buck microchips coming out of Yemen or Qatar. What is the Middle East's place in a post-petroleum world?

They are a resource-poor region (aside from oil). They are an agriculturally-poor region. They have a reputation as an academically poor region compared with Oxford-toting Britain or Harvard-toting America. Outside of Egypt and Israel they've done a pretty terrible job marketing themselves as a tourist destination. (And I really don't like to count Israel as a "Middle Eastern" country for the purposes of this discussion.) In short, they have no meaningful exports outside of oil. And once the demand for oil evaporates, even sustaining their current lifestyles seems all but impossible. How are you going to afford the latest iPhones and XBoxes when you're poorer than Bangladesh? You can't charge the petrochemical industry 1000% what you're charging them today. That will only push them away. And then you'll have no buyers for your precious "black gold."
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Old 03-19-2016, 01:22 PM   #7
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I think that the Middle East could actually become a pretty functional group of primarily industrial nations that actually turns their oil into products and pharmaceuticals and whatnot if they actually prioritized a long-term economic strategy over the get-rich-quick scheme that oil has turned into. It would really improve a lot of their situation if they started to invest in production instead of riches for the sake of riches.

In a weird way, the Middle East sort of missed out on the industrial revolution. Their poverty of resources means that they didn't really have anywhere to go but now in a global age, if they played their cards right they could easily benefit from trade and the few resources they do have available to them to make their economies interesting to investors and diverse enough to support more than just an upper class. They could have their own industrial revolution of sorts and reap all the benefits (increased job potential, a shift towards democracy and egalitarianism, etc.) that come from it.

But the leaders are too totalitarian and corrupt and don't want to listen to their people so we get Muslims killing Muslims and burning oil fields.
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Old 03-19-2016, 08:36 PM   #8
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Quote:
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What does UPN think about radical Islam? Are they gaining any ground? Do you think their recruitment methods are at all effective? Do you think the many independently operating groups are a boon or detrimental?
I think the Islamic State in particular, and its brand of jihad, is the most monstrous ideology human history has ever seen. It unites the worst aspects of Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union and the Empire of Japan under the umbrella of religion. ISIS jihad believes in the total annihilation or enslavement of people who don't subscribe to ISIS jihad, and considers both killing infidels and dying in battle as righteous.

I cannot think of another historical government or religion that was this toxic. Nazi Germany treated its own non-party civilians well, and gave them a high standard of living. The Empire of Japan's "fanaticism" leading to kamikaze was overblown, at least the version fed to American audiences through propaganda. By comparison, jihad's fanaticism is legitimate.

The closest government comparable to Islamic State I can think of is immediate post-WWII Stalinist Russia. Stalin's totalitarian regime and how he purged and controlled his own people are a chilling parallel, along with the Bolshevik Politburo who basically pillaged the country and created an oligarchy class underneath the General Secretary (which fits the role the ISIS leaders hold).

Islamic State has a few weaknesses that the radical governments of the '30s don't have, though.

1. Industry - aside from oil and human trafficking, Islamic State is still running as a guerrilla, terrorist organization. Their industry was appropriated from Iraq and Syria, so they lack the money to give economic stability that would otherwise entice people to their rule. This is different from Nazi Germany that stablised the Depression-era Germany and so won favour with non-party NSDAP members.
2. Military - most of Islamic State's weapons and armaments were stole/appropriated from the US and native governments of the Middle East. While powerful, they don't have any military industrial complex and so aren't capable of developing more weapons beyond what they have.
3. R&D - jihad-based Islam might be incompatible with weapons development, but for both of the above reasons, we see that Islamic State won't be able to develop technology better adapted for their own region. The Nazis, Soviets, and Imperials all developed their own weapons, planes, and had the training to do it. Something like the kamikaze was applied only toward the end of World War II when the war machines wore down. Islam uses that unskilled form of attack as their primary offensive, which limits their war potential.

Ultimately, while I fear Islamic State based wholly on their ideology, until they acquire nuclear weapons they're a fairly stretched, weak government. Their bread and butter is terrorism and that's what they do best, not rule a nation. It'll take some several, coincidental changes to make them a military threat.
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Old 03-19-2016, 09:54 PM   #9
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The goal of Islamic State is something I actually really respect - they want a return to Islam's glory days when the Islamic empire reached from Morocco to Pakistan. Which sounds great! Pan-islamic orgs have been suggested and encouraged for decades now, but OPEC is the closest anyone has come and it's not really an Arabic/Islamic thing. Their actions and methods of setting up this state, however, are totally disgusting. It's like if Americans championed the cause of Christianity by nuking Canada and Mexico. It's basically true evil. They've committed thousands of crimes against humanity. We have to stop them.

I do respect them for their brilliant modern version of the holy war, though. Say what you will, but these people are not uneducated religious savages, they're media-savvy propagandists who have indoctrinated a scary amount of people into their cult.
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Old 03-19-2016, 10:02 PM   #10
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You're right on that front but they are still religious savages. :p
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Old 03-19-2016, 10:53 PM   #11
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Quote:
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I do respect them for their brilliant modern version of the holy war, though. Say what you will, but these people are not uneducated religious savages, they're media-savvy propagandists who have indoctrinated a scary amount of people into their cult.
It doesn't take a bonafide einstein genius to upload photos to Instagram. Millions of American users prove this point daily.

I also disagree that they're not savages - ISIS has no method of action or central planning for how they want to trigger their war of blood. Compare to the Vietcong, who knew they would lose a war of attrition with the US unless the war grew unpopular enough domestically to force withdrawl.

ISIS reminds me of a murderer who kills someone impulsively, without plan of escaping successfully and diverting suspicion. A clever murderer goes in with a plan, and methodically kills and covers his tracks. This is why many murders go unsolved, if they're even identified as such, and the most common convicted murderers are idiots.

So what you have, then, is a group of nutter butters who just want the US to paradrop into the Islamic State and kill everyone. Without a widespread awakening of jihad, ISIS is no better than Occupy Wall Street or the Malheur occupation.
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Old 03-19-2016, 10:55 PM   #12
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We have to stop them.
Why? To me, the US/Western powers engaging with them is exactly what the IS wants- they need us interfering in Middle Eastern affairs to create the collateral damage and news reel films that enable them to recruit. If we were to essentially blockade/isolate them instead, suddenly they become much less of a threat. They lose out on recruits at home and abroad, their sphere of influence is curtailed and they'll eventually burn themselves out. The idea that we need to be policing the world is a very dangerous one that leads to huge deficits and has been a key factor in stressing our relationships with allies in the past. The best thing we can do is take refugees and encourage other nations to do the same and simply contain the IS, rather than engage them in what essentially becomes a hydra head-chopping competition.
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Old 03-19-2016, 11:04 PM   #13
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Why? To me, the US/Western powers engaging with them is exactly what the IS wants- they need us interfering in Middle Eastern affairs to create the collateral damage and news reel films that enable them to recruit. If we were to essentially blockade/isolate them instead, suddenly they become much less of a threat. They lose out on recruits at home and abroad, their sphere of influence is curtailed and they'll eventually burn themselves out. The idea that we need to be policing the world is a very dangerous one that leads to huge deficits and has been a key factor in stressing our relationships with allies in the past. The best thing we can do is take refugees and encourage other nations to do the same and simply contain the IS, rather than engage them in what essentially becomes a hydra head-chopping competition.
We're already doing a lot of damage to them with the shale oil production. At least, I highly suspect that shale oil - which at max capacity is no more profitable than not producing anything - is the economic way the US is battling ISIS. The Islamic State needs cash to fund its activities and the oil glut has done major damage to their revenue stream, delaying their activities until their fragile government collapses.

I disagree that we need to contain them. It's true that such is the most effective way at handling them, but the calculus changes if they obtain nuclear weapons, and Pakistan appears to be a willing partner at supplying them with such. ISIS currently can't afford to do it, and they can't project any military toward Pakistan. But this would change if there's a supply shock on oil, which could happen. Shale has taken a hit with the near-collapse of Chesapeake Energy.

For the time being, we don't have to invade the Islamic State. But depending on what happens with oil, I would be strongly in favour of completely annihilating them. This is a monstrous organization engaging in horrific human rights violations that we're all aware of because they post them online. I can't in good faith close down YouTube and pretend I didn't see anything.
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Old 03-19-2016, 11:09 PM   #14
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I generally view ISIS as a nuclear threat the same way I view North Korea. They won't be. North Korea could have easily gotten a nuclear bomb or several from their friendly neighbor China, but they didn't (I highly doubt it was in respect to foreign affairs, China literally flooded a ton of troops over the Korean border to keep Korean communists from being wiped out) and now that they're at such a pathetic standing in world politics they won't get it from anyone and are trying (and failing) to make one of their own. The minute we get an inkling that North Korea could possibly be a nuclear threat, the US will tell the UN, the UN will go "Yeah we should maybe do something about this" and boom, no North Korea.

...after a rather long war most likely because North Korea has an oddly large military force.
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Old 03-19-2016, 11:30 PM   #15
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There was never really a reason for North Korea to bomb any of its neighbours. The Kim family enjoys its royal family status and is actually pretty afraid of sabotaging that (except Jong-un who might actually be a murderous moron).

Their nuclear weapons are probably pretty primitive and they (currently) lack the ICBM technology to really project that beyond their local allies. So, they bomb someone, they are wiped cleaner than a baby's bottom. So, most of the nuclear shows are just chest buffing toward other countries.

If NK was really a threat, any of the other mobilised nations could very quickly launch an offensive to subdue the entire country. The major fear was that China would get mad if a Western Democracy would do that right on their doorstep. I don't think China cares so much anymore.
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Old 03-19-2016, 11:36 PM   #16
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I'm going to divert the conversation away from the rabbit hole that is "should the US engage in Middle Eastern conflict" (this is a Global Politics thread after all) and ask the Euros in the thread if they feel less safe due to the recent rise of ISIL and their attacks on European and almost-European (read Turkish) cities.
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Old 03-20-2016, 04:25 PM   #17
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Wow that is some outstanding phone typing in my previous post, good job past me.

Talon, I'd argue that if such nations could forge themselves into a tertiary economy and basically export expertise then they could become perfectly powerful. For example, Saudi Arabia has the potential to be the hub of solar power development and expertise. At the risk of causing a giant argument, one of the reasons boycotting Israeli products is quite hard to do is that Israel is really really good at a lot of things that the West likes to buy. No reason other nations in the Middle East couldn't in time become of a similar stature, other than the fact that they have no meaningful political, economic or educational framework to support it.

I live in central London, have at various times worked inside or in close proximity to obvious terrorist targets, and until recently was dating someone who works in the equivalent locales over in Brussels. I don't feel any more or less in danger because of this stuff. I think it's far more likely that India/Pakistan will accidentally enable a nuclear war than ISIS starts an international campaign of violence that materially affects my life.
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Old 03-20-2016, 05:05 PM   #18
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England is also a country where people don't have assault rifles hanging over their beds and cookbooks on how to brew plastic explosives in their libraries.

I'm pretty confident in both my running and fighting ability, which would serve me well in England or Japan. But in the US, if someone wants to kill you, they'll shoot you, drive a car, or do both. There's little escape if someone wants you dead, consequences be darned.
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Old 03-22-2016, 06:09 PM   #19
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I live in central London, have at various times worked inside or in close proximity to obvious terrorist targets, and until recently was dating someone who works in the equivalent locales over in Brussels. I don't feel any more or less in danger because of this stuff. I think it's far more likely that India/Pakistan will accidentally enable a nuclear war than ISIS starts an international campaign of violence that materially affects my life.
Awks.
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Old 03-22-2016, 06:20 PM   #20
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Wait what exactly happened that made that statement awkward?

Did the nuclear war occur
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Old 03-22-2016, 06:28 PM   #21
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Brussels exploded.
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Old 03-22-2016, 07:58 PM   #22
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Oh. Oh dear. Do you know if the person you were dating is ok?
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Old 05-02-2016, 09:43 PM   #23
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So since the last topic was rather sadly ground to a halt by a terrorist attack, let's try something different.

Wikipedia has informed me that Kenya on Friday burned the largest pile of ivory in history in an effort to deter smuggling and poaching. I personally find this to be a rather interesting tactic and have a few questions of the UPN Populous.
  • Are these kinds of public displays a good choice in order to deter poaching/smuggling/similar acts?
  • Do you think this is the right approach by the Kenyan government?
  • Could this kind of thing work well in other contexts?

Discuss!
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Old 05-02-2016, 10:41 PM   #24
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What I'm hearing is the Jeri Co. needs to arrange a mass burning of Slowpoke Tails to deter poachers and smugglers in WF.
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Old 05-02-2016, 10:48 PM   #25
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Flooding the market with ivory would depreciate its value. That would be the #1 deterrent to poaching. (Or the #2, with capital punishment being the more likely #1.)

They just did the near opposite. The full opposite would have been destroying ivory that already was in people's homes, heightening demand. They didn't heighten demand ... but they did diminish existing supply. Ivory is a renewable resource, but controversially and slowly. If the amount of ivory they destroyed is equivalent to years' worth of ivory poaching, then I fear that this will have to have increased the market value of ivory, if even only by a small amount. And that is fundamentally opposite what we would want to have happen if we didn't want to incentivize poaching, which we don't.
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