Wednesday, August 27, 2014

1914 And All That...

This is the first of a number of posts dedicated to a CAART-based dissection of the First World War.

To that end, I will begin by quoting Herbert Butterfield, co-progenitor of the English School of "diplomatics" and international relations, on the grave conceptual flaw which underlay the "War to End All Wars":

The struggle which began in 1914...was fought on a basis that was bound to give the maximum scope to the hysterias and frenzies associated with the fury of battle. Precisely because it was conducted as a war "for righteousness", a war "for the destruction of the wicked", that whole conflict was turned into one that could admit of no compromise.
Precisely because of the myth of "the war to end all war", we made it more true than it had been for centuries that war breeds war, provokes revolution, generates new causes of conflict, deepens resentments, and produces those reversions which we call modern barbarism.
The decision to fight an unlimited war, for the vindication of morality as such, amounted to a decision to give war a greatly enhanced role in history, but it did not alter the dreadful character of the role which warfare always plays.  And since we cannot yet say that we have produced a world in which the possibility of war is at all ruled out, it is a question whether the more terrible moral responsibility does not lie upon those who insist on war à outrance than on those who had perhaps only the marginal responsibility for the outbreak of hostilities in the first place.
(Sir Herbert Butterfield, Christianity, Diplomacy and War, 1953, p. 17.)
This is a massively important statement of culpability, not only for The Great War, but for all the major conflicts which have followed.  It allows us to comprehend the threat of nuclear war in its proper perspective, and to see the futility of neo-realistic approaches to conflict resolution which effectively ignore the other side's concerns and interests -- a path we appear to be following right now in Ukraine with regard to the Russian Federation.

More to follow, about 1914 and especially about the implications of Butterfield's work. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Scotland, You Have Been Duped

With one month to go before voting begins for the Scottish referendum on independence from the United Kingdom, opinion polls appear to show a stable lead for the No campaign, led by the Better Together organization.

Which is all well and good, but not the whole story -- not by a long shot.

There is no nice way to say this -- Scots have been lied to, systematically and for many years, by the British government.  And the evidence extends beyond the highly respected government economist who, in addition to giving the linked interview to BBC Radio in 2008, penned this report on North Sea oil revenues in 1975 (here it is, re-typed and searchable).  See, for example, what former Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer Denis Healey has to say about Westminster burying the evidence on Scottish nationalism, North Sea oil, and what was obvious to him as the only moral path to follow – Scottish independence.

(Nor did the deception inherent in the classification of the McCrone Report go unnoticed by UK media when it was declassified in 2005 following a FOIA request.)

Since this blog is dedicated to an exposition of my Conflict Avoidance, Amelioration and Resolution Theory (CAART), I’d like to take a look at the various actors in this sordid little story and see if Thucydides’ three causative factors for conflict can help to explain how and why events unfolded as they have.

Phobos:  How has fear motivated the various parties involved?

UK government(s):  Obviously, the Labour government of Harold Wilson was afraid of something – quite likely the Scottish National Party (SNP) and its unprecedented 30% share of the Scottish vote in 1974.  Governments since then have not seen fit to declassify the McCrone Report, either, especially not while billions of pounds sterling were pouring into Westminster’s coffers from North Sea oil pumped from Scottish waters.  Evidently, that fear is still in effect – otherwise, why would UK government offices be predicting a massive tail-off in North Sea oil revenues in the near future?  The truth appears to be otherwise – including the possibility of new exploitation in other oil fields.

Labour Party:  Labour has a slight problem with Scottish independence: 250,000 additional votes south of the England/Scotland border, to be precise.  That’s how many more voters Labour will have to convince in future UK elections in order to win government if Scotland votes for its own independence.  That Labour’s Alistair Darling is the face and voice of Better Together during a series of debates with Scotland’s First Minister, the SNP’s Alex Salmond, is no accident, despite the perception that it is David Cameron’s Tories who are the principal backers of the No campaign.

BBC:  As above.  Seriously, Auntie appears to be well aware that Labour needs Scotland more than Scotland needs Labour.

Kerdos:  The discussion of fear above should inform quite a bit of our next topic, self-interest.

UK government(s), Labour Party, BBC: As above.

SNP: It is in the SNP’s best interest that the full & timely truth on North Sea oil and other key issues be revealed before September 18; sadly, they appear to be alone in this.

Doxa: In its original translation, “honor”, it appears to be broadly lacking in this debate – with the exception of the SNP and its leader.  A more modern translation of the concept, and one preferred by the University of Reading’s Colin Gray, however, is “culture” – and we have noted above where the culture at the BBC, for example, is aiming in this debate.

Conclusions: Only an overly slick and glib U.S.-style Better Together campaign may be able to save SNP from a No-vote spending onslaught, as well as from a virtual vital-issue blackout by UK media.  Nevertheless, don’t believe for one minute that Yes voters are telling the whole truth to pollsters – theirs is the transgressive vote, after all.

And here is one final thought for Scottish voters:  Does anyone really believe that, having hidden the truth about North Sea oil revenues for several decades, the UK government would hesitate to classify information about, say, other lucrative seabed-based resources (link requires free registration to read article) lying underneath Scotland’s territorial waters in the same manner that the McCrone Report on North Sea oil revenues was suppressed in 1975?