Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Dictators - the main cause of war in 2015

There has been a slight shift in the causes of current wars.

Last time I looked, in August 2015, separatism (one regional group wishing to be an autonomous state) was the cause of 50% of then-current wars. Before that, in 2008, separatism was a major cause in  30%, 

Now, July '15, separatism has slipped back to 30% again.

These figures could be disputed by experts and scholars. All wars are complex, and motivations and causal factors of all kinds are mixed into every war and conflict. Nevertheless, we can discern major factors in each situation.

Of the 13 wars  happening in 2015 that have death rates above 1,000 last year, dictators (either currently in power or recently removed) is a major cause in 8, and religion is operative in 5.

So about 60% of current wars have dictators involved in their causation in one way or another.

Here they are:

  1. Iraq (Saddam gave Bush/Blair their excuse to invade)
  2. Syria (dictator in place, resisting overthrow)
  3. Israel-Palestine (dictatorial attitudes by elected Governments)
  4. Somalia (more than 20 years after dictator was overthrown)
  5. Libya
  6. Yemen (post dictatorship)
  7. Sinai (post dictator)
  8. Central African Republic 
The thing with dictators is that they can hold a territory in a kind of unity through repression, but inevitably, after a generation or two, revolution or civil war takes place. Resentment in people who are not part of the ruling class or ruling tribe or clan builds up and finally explodes into demonstrations and then conflict. After the overthrow of the dictator and his group, there tends to be conflict from settling of scores, and conflict between groups who had been kept at peace through repressive means. 

We learn two things from this situation: first, the UN needs to put in place measures to discourage the formation of dictatorships, and second, we need ways and means of persuading dictators to make the journey back to democracy.

The Green Party - and also the Global Greens -  have adopted an instrument that will help achieve the first goal. It is called the Global Index of Human Rights.  It is fiendishly simple. The human rights performance of every state in the world is measured and the results are published annually by the UN. This creates a continuous, gentle pressure on all states to improve their record, and the very worst performing states, and those who are moving down the league table can be offered advice and help to change direction, backed by targeted sanctions if they are uncooperative.

In the case of specific established dictators who are overtly harming their populations, a tariff of measures can be used to persuade them to change. Search "Appendix 1" on the Global Index page.

So there is a non-violent way to prevent and treat dictatorships.

Some politically interested individuals are so traumatised by past foreign policy failures, for instance in the Iraq war, they simply argue that every country should be left to itself to determine its own way. This new laissez-faire attitude is not Green. We cannot sit back and allow oppression, political imprisonment, torture, killings, migration and eventually civil war to take place as if it is nothing to do with us. The world is one world. The Green way has always been to "think globally". Laissez-faire is not an option for us.

Humanity and the need for global political harmony require that we become involved in positive, non-violent ways to contain dictators in order to prevent war.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Zoological Questions

Does a truffle hound go snuffle
When it's looking out for truffles?
Would a wombat bat a Womble if it met one?

These are the kind of questions
a zoologist could answer
But it's really really difficult to get one.

  1. Richard Lawson

Friday, July 24, 2015

The Promise of Hiroshima

It was all so beautiful.

Mathematics could dissect reality itself,

Complex, but simply balanced,

A logan rock moved by a touch,

and through these mysteries

we came to understand

the energy constrained within a grain of sand.

Infinitesimal becomes

unbounded power.

Three planes, one flash

One whole town gone to dust.

Nothing except a few skeletal lines

Some shadow where a man had been.

Silence,    apart from screams.

For some, that was success.

And this is how it stays. We live

under the sword of Damocles

peace dangling by a hair,

our fallibility denied.

We live beneath a constant threat,

in wilful ignorance of death.

As if the sheer perfection of the truth

could purge the politicians' faults.

As if the discipline of science

that showed them to unlock the door

had somehow spread itself

into the corrupted soul and mind

of those whose stock in trade is lies.

Richard Lawson 


Is nuclear deterrence infallible?

August 6th is the 70th anniversary of the nuclear destruction of Hiroshima.

We still have these weapons.

The key question about nuclear weapons is this: Is the deterrence system infallible? Is it impossible that in any circumstances whatsoever, nuclear armed politicians would actually fire these weapons?

The answer to this is negative. There could be a confluence of political tension, military engagement, and technical breakdown in the early warning systems that could persuade one or other of the nuclear powers that an attack was under way. In which case a general nuclear holocaust would ensue, which would almost certainly bring an end to human civilisation.

If the consequence of breakdown of a system is infinitely destructive, you employ that system if and only if the possibility of its breakdown is zero.

Since the possibility of breakdown of deterrence is greater than zero, we must disable and dismantle all nuclear weapons.

Monday, July 20, 2015


They say I'm always changing.

Always, but never ageing
From hour to hour
From day to day I change
Yet of all things in the world
I am most constant.

I change from blue to grey
Purple to green
And back again
And when I'm torn or broken
My wound is white.

I'm quicksilver.
I am deep green,
Sometimes shot through with golden rays
Above, that silver window that is your life
Below you, only darkness

I made those rocks that wound me
And sharp sand scimitars that cut me down.
Laid them and mothered them
Over time so long, so vast, so stretched
There is no point describing it.

I laid them flat, 
Tidy and neat
Nice white and cream
But time got at them
Bucking and buckling every which way.

It's better that we start again. 
Grind these great cliffs
So fine, they are dissolved once more
Become alive 
And try again.

Don't call me God.
I'm only one of four
Great forces 
Who create the life
You love and love to hate so much.

This is all true.
I am to you 
Both life and death
You see my skin, but in my self
I hold a world you'll never see.

Don't make an enemy of me.

(c) Richard Lawson