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Ideal backdrop

Mark Mardell | 12:39 UK time, Sunday, 5 April 2009

The backdrop was ideal for President Obama's initial message of a world that had changed beyond recognition. These were the gates through which Hitler drove to glory in his conquest of Czechoslovakia, this the castle in which Communist presidents used to receive like-minded leaders of the unfree world.
prague.jpg
He told the crowd, estimated by the White House to be 20,000 strong that when he was born it was inconceivable that an American President "like him" would be allowed to speak to a crowd in Prague. What was impressive about the speech on nuclear disarmament was not the depth of his thought but the way he pulled disparate strands together to weave a coherent picture.

The audience stopped flag waving and cheering as the president's tone grew more serious. He told them that if Iran gave up its nuclear programme there would be no need for a missile shield in the Czech republic : the plan to station a radar here is hugely controversial and is stuck in Parliament.

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  • 1. At 3:41pm on 05 Apr 2009, betuli wrote:

    Mark, you wrote:

    "He told them that if Iran gave up its nuclear programme there would be no need for a missile shield in the Czech republic."

    Yes, indeed. Everybody knows Iran is dangerously near the Czech republic!

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  • 2. At 3:48pm on 05 Apr 2009, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    To think that the United States of America has saddled itself with this raving fool. And just when we thought things could hardly get worse.

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  • 3. At 5:35pm on 05 Apr 2009, davep01 wrote:

    "A coherent picture" perhaps, but so far one more of underlying policy inertia rather than the fundamental change we need to undo the damage of the last eight year. Warning Iran it risks an arms race isn't too smart when the country already faces an Isreli regional nuclear monopoly. "Yes please, Mr President, we'll take the arms race." So would I, in their position.

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  • 4. At 5:49pm on 05 Apr 2009, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    Yes! It has happened! I haven't seen it reported by the BBC but the Sueddeutsche Zeitung reports it: Obama has requested (or demanded?) that the "EU" let Turkey in!

    Let him let Turkey into the USA!

    Let him remove the border to Mexico!

    There are already a whole load of reasons to want to leave the "EU". Having Turkey in the "EU" would be yet another one which on its own would suffice to want to leave.

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

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  • 5. At 6:22pm on 05 Apr 2009, HabitualHero wrote:

    Can I assume that his eulogy to a World without nuclear weapons is a prelude to an attack on Iran?

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  • 6. At 6:32pm on 05 Apr 2009, newsjock wrote:

    The non-nuclear scenario is ideal.

    But it cannot simply hinge on whether Iran gives up its nuclear arms ambitions.

    How about China, India and North Korea for starters ?

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  • 7. At 7:30pm on 05 Apr 2009, MaxSceptic wrote:

    HabitualHero @ 5

    No.

    But one can live in hope....

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  • 8. At 7:36pm on 05 Apr 2009, dennisjunior1 wrote:

    Yes, Mark: the backdrop was ideal for President Obama speech in Prague, Czech Republic...

    -Dennis Junior

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  • 9. At 7:50pm on 05 Apr 2009, Dean MacKinnon-Thomson wrote:

    @ 1 betuli

    Your rather missing the point I think. The whole point about a missile shield is that it must be placed strategically; not only to protect the nations it is located in physically but in order to maximise the number of states protected behind such a missile defence shield.

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  • 10. At 7:52pm on 05 Apr 2009, Dean MacKinnon-Thomson wrote:

    @ 6 newsjock

    What do you mean? You can solve more than one problem at once, I mean you can build the defence shield to solve the future Iranian threat and still deal deal with N. Korea etc via other means such as negotiation.

    Besides, I hardly beleive that China and India are credible threats to global security; not exactly rogue nations are they?

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  • 11. At 7:54pm on 05 Apr 2009, Dean MacKinnon-Thomson wrote:

    @ 5 HabitualHero

    No you may not.

    Thats a rather silly suggestion really isnt it? Obama is a dove not a hawk, and the whole point about neuclear defence is that its best being utilised when not actually using it- deterence- it worked during the cold war; and it'l be the best policy if Iran defy the UN and aquires WMDs (and they do intent to use them- to kill the Jewish folk in Israel!)

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  • 12. At 8:18pm on 05 Apr 2009, betuli wrote:

    No, deanthetory (9), I'm not missing the point: this missile shield (a Bush's idea) more than protecting anyone, it appears to be an unnecessary provocation against Russia. The "Iran threat" excuse to place it in Central Europe is just dismissable, if not a bad joke, from my point of view.

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  • 13. At 8:46pm on 05 Apr 2009, Dean MacKinnon-Thomson wrote:

    What are you talking about betuli? What is silly about seeking to protect Central and Eastern Europe as well as Western Europe and USA from Iranian WMD capabilities? I suppose they don't matter as much to your rather liberal Bourgeoisie attitudes?

    And your Russia point is out of date actually- as the Russians have now made it clear that they are open to discussions with Obama about joining into the scheme as they also fear an Iran with WMDs; (now that its clear that Iran will free itself of Russian influence upon aquiring such techs).

    Stop scaremongering its honestly rather pathetic.

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  • 14. At 8:47pm on 05 Apr 2009, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    Obama is quoted in a German newspaper as saying that the "EU" should let Turkey in. I've been waiting for him to say that. I do not want Turkey in the "EU" and I believe that a majority of "citizens of the EU" do not.

    I believe that this continuous attempt to bully us into letting Turkey in will have negative consequences. I will no longer go to Turkey as I suspect that I will have somebody starting an argument with me about it.

    I do not want to be nasty to Turks who live in the UK. I do not want to throw any Turks out except for any involved in crime just as I would invite other countries to throw out any Brits involved in crime in their country.

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  • 15. At 9:29pm on 05 Apr 2009, theoldnat wrote:

    #14 SuffolkBoy2

    I'm a little confused by your post. I thought that you didn't want England to be in the EU (did I misunderstand you?). In which case, why are you concerned as to who the EU admits?

    As a practical measure, I also oppose the admission of Turkey, Georgia and Ukraine while their borders contain significant national minorities that their constitutions do not recognise as having legitimate rights to self determination.

    Although that might also be said to apply to Spain and the UK, the traditions of the Western democracies make it unlikely that the devolved areas, like Catalunia and Scotland, would not be free to leave if their citizens voted for that.

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  • 16. At 9:52pm on 05 Apr 2009, davep01 wrote:

    11. At 7:54pm on 05 Apr 2009, deanthetory wrote:
    "the whole point about neuclear defence is that its best being utilised when not actually using it - deterence - it worked during the cold war"

    I agree. But what makes you think that isn't how Iran sees it too? Deterrence only works if you have a deterrent, as Iraq discovered after destroying its primitive WMD capability in 1991. So shouldn't what goes for the US go for Iran too?

    As for your comment that Iran intends to "kill the Jewish folk in Israel", I'd be interested to hear your evidence. Iran is far more concerned about the threat from Israel's nuclear arsenal. Deterrence again: it cuts both ways - it's supposed to.

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  • 17. At 9:53pm on 05 Apr 2009, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    deanthetory,
    I'm afraid all is well with us, but not so well.
    We are ready (and have been) to discuss any thing. For example, we've offering for ages to use Azerbajan old Soviet base to intercept whatever emerges out of Iran. We are friendly with Azerbajan, USA is friendly with Azerbajan, Azerbajan smiles left and right to us both, can live with us both.
    The offer was turned down as "Soviet equipment out-dated". Who questions it! Install your own. Then we will know - it is to intercept Iran/Iraq and Middle East corner in general stuff and nothing else. Not Russian rockets. Not Belorussian rockets (looking into future - at present they have nil). Not Ukraine rockets (same; nil at present). Not rockets from any place in the Northern part of this continent - as the Polish and Czech location would allow.

    The Azerbajan place was exactly selected by the USSR as it covers troubles from Iran first, Iraq second, Middle East third.
    US military know that. It's common knowledge the Azerbajan base is tops location.

    What US does is build the next piece in the chain of interception bases, this is a known growing chain, the locations in it (plus 4-5 more needed to complete) will cover the world. When it's finshed - USA can attack - anybody they please - whenever they please, not held back by scare of a return shot. Which holds all these nuclear games participants at present, as the key factor. You shoot - you'll be shot at.

    Think a step ahead, it's a chess basics. Why do you build interception points' chain worldwide. To protect oneself, granted. To protect oneself, I am sorry, one's own country plus minus a couple of islands and buffer states with bases - is enough.

    In this nuclear game it is useless at this stage to pile up offensive weapons. Out of fashion. No sense, as you can't apply - unless you ensure that nobody in the world can attack you.

    I am sorry, Russia didn't install military bases in 150 countries post 2ndWW. We do not have this umbrella, and are not building it.
    And happen to not like the idea of a single country in the worl able to attack without a risk for itself - USA. They'll dicatate conditions to all when they are over with the chain. And this does harm Russian security.
    This harms every country in the worl security - only others are not willing to stand up to the US, or can't.
    You view it as a "spot", one-off. Military know it's a chain, to be finished soon.

    No consensus is possible on that in principal. We have objected to this step No, and will object to the remaining steps, what's small in our power - we will object, rest assured.

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  • 18. At 9:59pm on 05 Apr 2009, Jesissa wrote:

    There is a nuclear term called critical mass. Where a nuclear explosion is achievable only when the required mass is attained. Continuing to allow any further proliferation of nuclear material will ultimately lead to a critical mass of nuclear devastation. If one nuclear bomb is detonated in anger or ideology, then make no mistake, the retaliation will be in kind and that will carry consequences for all on our small planet. We must pull back our world from the political and physical nuclear critical mass of destruction. Let’s not ridicule someone trying to save humanity. He needs our help...all of our help.

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  • 19. At 10:10pm on 05 Apr 2009, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    And nobody speaks here about "intentions"; the stuff is so dangerous that "good intentions" don't count. Remember Crimean war set off button was a silly key from the church is Israel, that France wanted, and Russia wanted - a small metal silly key. From one door. The 1st WW one Ferdinand, well, the 2nd was kind of prepared, but no way, no risks in that.
    Not one single world country but USA is building a worldwide anti-missile umbrella. When they are done, all who have that stuff can as well forget about it.
    Add to this USA has turned down absolutely all Russia's offers to jointly sign that space is not military place, no armament placed in space by definition. USSR asked for it 10 times, OK back then we were formal antagonists. New Russia asked for it 10 times - and will continue, this is one of our "trouble points" in the long list of "things to agree about" with USA. So far turned down all offers.

    In Iran our influence is limited to the nuclear plant building for them. Which took very long time because Iran pays stage by stage, skips payments, drags time, we nearly left twice already. And only when we say "now, that's the last drop. we are leaving you to this - finish yourself - and pack the engineers home, kind of an hour before airport they pay. Very very tight fisted folk. :o)

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  • 20. At 10:13pm on 05 Apr 2009, threnodio wrote:

    #2 - MarcusAureliusII

    "To think that the United States of America has saddled itself with this raving fool".

    Didn't realise they were saddled with you, Marcus. I thought you were born there.

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  • 21. At 10:20pm on 05 Apr 2009, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    Or, think this N.Korea shooting out. "revolutionary songs". LOL. Our folk! Love songs :o)

    It's 2 weeks already all interception equipment rolled out in our Pacific corner, what if they'd start earlier than announced. Valdivostok and Nakhodka ports, and Ussurijsk people all in worries; Japan also got hedgehogged fully, plus sent ships out into the sea, all that quarter both we and Japan and US ships got ready to catch Korean stuff.
    What did China do in preparations no idea but certainly they did. Even that they are theoretically friends with N. Korea, practically - hell knows , about the quality of their rockets. Are they sure themselves they know where and how it will fly?
    Became a very combustubale corner.
    Now, imagine that stupid rocket would fly over Japan or over us - we'd fire, Japan will fire, all so close and not co-ordinated. Are we sure we'd recognise some Chinese rocket as "flyng to intercept" N.Korean one? If it flies in our direction? Wars start from absolutely idiotic beginnings, imo.
    And the only thing that holds parties - is don't you fire towards the other, even if it seems to you you're fired at, put your brains together, remember you'll be shot at at once.
    Take that consideration away -

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  • 22. At 10:34pm on 05 Apr 2009, threnodio wrote:

    #10 - deanthetory

    If North Korea did successfully develop an ICBM, its likely target would be the USA. Europe is much further and not en route to the States so the Czech Polish shield is not really relevant to that scenario. It is very relevant to anything coming out of the Middle East or the Indian sub-continent.

    #17 - WebAliceinwonderland

    Good point Alice. The Azerbaijan option has been on the table for a long time. The difference is that you in Russia never really believed that the Bush administration was serious about it not including a shield against Russia. There has been a big shift in attitude since Obama came to office. I have always believed that the best way forward was either to go for Azerbaijan or invite Russian cooperation in a global security venture. While they are setting up SALT 3 or whatever they are going to call it, it would make sense to programme guidance software to retarget some of these devices at areas of concern, to do so very publicly and to make it absolutely clear that the price of developing capability in defiance of the non-proliferation treaty is becoming a legitimate target. A disincentive to proliferation might be a good start towards Obama's stated long term objective.

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  • 23. At 11:09pm on 05 Apr 2009, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    15. At 9:29pm on 05 Apr 2009, oldnat wrote:

    '#14 SuffolkBoy2

    I'm a little confused by your post. I thought that you didn't want England to be in the EU (did I misunderstand you?).'

    SB2: I don't want England or the UK to be in the "EU".



    'In which case, why are you concerned as to who the EU admits?'

    SB2: 1) I do not want a Muslim country on the other side of the channel. Palestinians have stated on British TV that they would defeat the Israelis by outbreeding them. The Muslims I know seem to have very large families. I do not want the UK, or England or Scotland or the "EU" to become Muslim.
    2) The UK is unfortunately still in the "EU". It looks as if Turkey could become part of the "EU" whilst we are still in it.


    ' ... the traditions of the Western democracies make it unlikely that the devolved areas, like Catalunia and Scotland, would not be free to leave if their citizens voted for that.'

    SB2 I believe that you are wrong on that point. I believe that it is the position of the Spanish government that the peoples of Gibraltar, Catalonia, or the Basque country do not have the right to be outside of Spain even if 100% of the population there desires it. I think the same applies to Italy and the South Tirol and France and Corsica. These are reasons not to want to be in a political union with the continentals with or without Turkey.


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  • 24. At 11:27pm on 05 Apr 2009, threnodio wrote:

    #21 - WebAliceinwonderland

    Japan and US very publicly coordinated. I would be very surprised if Moscow was not consulted and I would expect that, privately at least, Beijing were in the loop as well. The last thing anyone needs is a nasty accident due to a misunderstanding. Fortunately it looks like the whole thing failed miserably anyway.

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  • 25. At 11:38pm on 05 Apr 2009, theoldnat wrote:

    #23 SuffolkBoy2

    "I do not want a Muslim country on the other side of the channel"

    LOL No comment is required on that particular inanity.

    Re self-determination. You seem to be suggesting that Spain, Italy, France are not willing to comply with their treaty commitments to the UN Convention on Human Rights. You don't mention the UK. Are you suggesting that it would uniquely be willing to comply?

    Devolution didn't happen because the Labour Party suddenly decided to abandon its core belief in the centralisation of power. It occurred as a requirement to maintain UK membership of the Council of Europe, when the UK was busy lecturing the accession countries about democracy, and the democratic deficit of Scotland was widely circulated among these countries as an effective answer to the hypocrisy of the UK. Naturally, with their usual talent for incompetence, Labour then introduced a democratic deficit for England - but that's for you guys to deal with.

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  • 26. At 11:59pm on 05 Apr 2009, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    25. At 11:38pm on 05 Apr 2009, oldnat wrote:

    "#23 SuffolkBoy2

    "I do not want a Muslim country on the other side of the channel"

    LOL No comment is required on that particular inanity."

    You mean you haven't got an answer to it!

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  • 27. At 00:10am on 06 Apr 2009, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    25. At 11:38pm on 05 Apr 2009, oldnat wrote:

    "#23 SuffolkBoy2

    ...

    Re self-determination. You seem to be suggesting that Spain, Italy, France are not willing to comply with their treaty commitments to the UN Convention on Human Rights. ..."

    I do not know about the UN convention. I believe that they will not allow those areas to leave. I believe this from bits and bobs I have heard over the years.

    "You don't mention the UK. Are you suggesting that it would uniquely be willing to comply?"


    I thought we had a referendum on independence in Scotland and that the Scots voted NO. Please update me.

    I do not have a high opinion of John Major, but I believe I remember him saying "Of course we would let the Scots leave if they wanted to." or something like that.

    "Devolution didn't happen ... " but surely it did happen? Do the Scots not have their own parliament.

    My position on an English parliament is that we should not have one but that we should have parliaments for various regions, like the Germans, the Swiss the Australians etc. I suggest that the parliaments would be represented in the House of Lords - similar to the German system.

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  • 28. At 00:22am on 06 Apr 2009, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    threnodio, that Japan and US were co-ordinated no doubt indeed. both countries' ships stood nicely, saw a lot of ships on TV this previous week.
    BTW noticed how Japanese ships' differ in outline from the rest. can't explain but def a different concept. never stared at their ships before, but you would say at once "an alien" :o)
    hope we were consulted somehow, simply not mentioned. we brought out no ships, all ground, while USA and Japan relied on fleets.
    surely it's not the last trial, so better be able to co-ordinate.

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  • 29. At 00:25am on 06 Apr 2009, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    Hope that Japan and China will talk USA to be reasonable ab N. Korea.
    If USA loses patience and blasts them, I am sorry not only for N.Korea, but for us. We live there, unlike Europe.

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  • 30. At 00:30am on 06 Apr 2009, theoldnat wrote:

    #27 SuffolkBoy2

    I am a little staggered - you have never heard of the UN Convention on Human Rights, to which your state (and Spain, Italy, France and every other UN member) is a signatory?

    "Article 1

    1. All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.
    2. All peoples may, for their own ends, freely dispose of their natural wealth and resources without prejudice to any obligations arising out of international economic co-operation, based upon the principle of mutual benefit, and international law. In no case may a people be deprived of its own means of subsistence.
    3. The States Parties to the present Covenant, including those having responsibility for the administration of Non-Self-Governing and Trust Territories, shall promote the realization of the right of self-determination, and shall respect that right, in conformity with the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations."


    "I thought we had a referendum on independence in Scotland and that the Scots voted NO. Please update me."

    You live so close, but you are so ignorant. This is surprising. There has never been a referendum on Scottish Independence. The current Scottish government wishes to have one, but Scotland has a PR system, and no one party is ever likely to have a majority. The Unionist parties (Tory, Labour, Lib-Dem) combine to deny us a referendum.

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  • 31. At 00:35am on 06 Apr 2009, theoldnat wrote:

    #27 SuffolkBoy2

    "My position on an English parliament is that we should not have one but that we should have parliaments for various regions, like the Germans, the Swiss the Australians etc. I suggest that the parliaments would be represented in the House of Lords - similar to the German system."

    The English should determine their own system of Government without interference from others in the UK. However, as a friendly observer I would point out that legislation means passing statutory law. That's not a problem here since we have our own legal system, but different legislative assemblies within England might give you significant difficulties without some "all England" political dimension.

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  • 32. At 00:36am on 06 Apr 2009, Dean MacKinnon-Thomson wrote:

    "#23 SuffolkBoy2

    "I do not want a Muslim country on the other side of the channel"

    That is the most primitive reason, and offensive, reason for preventing Turkey from entering the EU.

    A better one might be the still problematic human rights issues, or the continuing bullying of Orthodox Christians; to provide you with some actually acceptable and FAIR MINDED reasons.

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  • 33. At 01:01am on 06 Apr 2009, Dean MacKinnon-Thomson wrote:

    Oldnat:

    "The Unionist parties (Tory, Labour, Lib-Dem) combine to deny us a referendum."

    This is unfair.

    We Unionists oppose it becuase the public have told us to do so: the last You Gov poll on this subject dated 16/03/2009 showed that the majority of Scots thought that there should be no referendum held next year: 53% to a mere 32%.

    And remember a clear majority of Scots clearly according to the same poll intend to vote NO to seperation besides: 53% to 33%.


    So the majority of Scots beleive that there ought to be no referendum this side of 2011, and the majority of Scots dont want independence- that seems pretty fair reason for Unionists to oppose giving into the SNP obsession about seperation; given the expense required to hold one at a time when that money could be better spent helping folk through the recession.

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

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  • 34. At 01:02am on 06 Apr 2009, theoldnat wrote:

    #32 deanthetory

    Naturally, I agree with you on this.

    I don't see religion as a being a critical issue. I'm quite happy for England to remain in the EU, despite it's Head of State being simultaneously the Head of it's Established Church, and their strange position of having the bishops of that church as part of the legislature.

    The English may have an incomprehensible constitution, but they are still Europeans, neighbours and friends.

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  • 35. At 01:13am on 06 Apr 2009, jr4412 wrote:

    Mark Mardell writes "What was impressive about the speech on nuclear disarmament was not the depth of his thought but the way he pulled disparate strands together to weave a coherent picture."

    unfortunately I saw only the "soundbite" on euronews.net, that gave me the impression that President Obama said that the USA will be the last country to dispose of its nuclear arsenal. will all the other nuclear nations go along with that? not likely.

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  • 36. At 12:10pm on 06 Apr 2009, WhiteEnglishProud wrote:

    having just returned from Turkey i have no problem with the Turk's joining the E.U
    Calling it a moderate Muslim Country is an understatement, compared to other Muslim Countries i have visited they are some what blaise about their religious practises. Religion is a definate second place to the pursuit of wealth.
    However many of the Turks i spoke to were not enthusiastic about the prospect of joining the E.U. The Euro is already widely used a whilst many saw some benifits of ecconomic union they disliked the idea of losing the control they have over domestic and foriegn affairs.

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  • 37. At 2:23pm on 06 Apr 2009, theoldnat wrote:

    #33 deanthetory

    "We Unionists oppose it becuase the public have told us to do so"

    Hardly. You were against consulting the people, long before the current recession. UK parties normally only want referenda when they are in opposition. As soon as they are in government, there's always a good reason for doing nothing. You don't trust the people.

    In a referendum on the EU, you and I would probably be on the losing side. On a straight question about Scottish Independence, I would probably be on the losing side. I'll settle for a direct democratic decision - even if I lose. These issues are too important to be left to politicians.

    I note your continued tendency to quote selectively from polls which suit your position. For a non-partisan analysis of polling on independence, have a look at Anthony Wells analysis on UK Polling Report.

    "The only question that consistently produces a plurality in favour of Scottish independence is in response to the straightforward question of whether respondents are in favour of Scotland becoming a country independent of the UK. Responses vary over time, but more often than not the balance is in favour of independence."

    In a multi-option referendum (which your party has signally failed to support) I would anticipate the responses being much more in line with the annual polling carried out in the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey. The most recent figures show 23% of people in favour of independence, 55% in favour of a Parliament with additional powers, 8% in favour of the status quo and 10% in favour of the Scottish Parliament being abolished and a return to Westminster rule.

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  • 38. At 2:43pm on 06 Apr 2009, Freeman wrote:

    Old Nat: "Re self-determination. You seem to be suggesting that Spain, Italy, France are not willing to comply with their treaty commitments to the UN Convention on Human Rights."

    Have you been to Gibraltar? Even with the present day Spaniards, they try and bully Gibraltar into joining Spain in a manner that makes the British look positively above board and innocent.

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  • 39. At 4:15pm on 06 Apr 2009, Isenhorn wrote:

    Re: Obama's speech
    'that when he was born it was inconceivable that an American President "like him" would be allowed to speak to a crowd in Prague. '

    Interesting thought. Who did he mean would have prevented him? Is it the government of Communist Czechoslovakia or MAII with his post at #2?

    On a different topic:
    'if Iran gave up its nuclear programme there would be no need for a missile shield in the Czech republic : the plan to station a radar here is hugely controversial and is stuck in Parliament.'

    The only thing the Czechs need to do now is sort out Iran and there would be no need for the missile shield. And if the USA decides to deploy missiles on Chinese territory, even the Chinese will rush to help. :-)

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  • 40. At 5:07pm on 06 Apr 2009, threnodio wrote:

    #37 - oldnat

    They are spineless to a man. If there are two questions which, if asked, would propel the UK nations out of this ridiculous impasse. Do you want to be part of the British Union and do you want to be part of the European Union?

    Will they ask it? Will they hell.

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  • 41. At 6:03pm on 06 Apr 2009, StephenGash wrote:

    #32. deanthetory wrote: "A better one might be the still problematic human rights issues, or the continuing bullying of Orthodox Christians; to provide you with some actually acceptable and FAIR MINDED reasons."
    Why do you think these are a problem? The answer is of course, Islam. All over the muslim world non-muslims are being persecuted. Most of this goes unreported in the Western media. I don't know what's happened to the BBC. It is merely a mirror for all the other mainstream news channels. One can check this every evening at 7pm, by channel hopping, BBC News 24, Sky News and Channel4 News. The same news items are presented in the same order.
    The BBC should report on what is happening in places like the Philippines, where muslims murder non-muslims every day, and where a whole village was burnt to the ground without even being mentioned on British TV. Around 20 people, mainly Buddhists, a month are murdered by muslims in Thailand, again unreported.
    Human rights are selectively avoided by Britain's and Europe's mainstream media. We hear constantly about Palestinians, but the systematic abuse of non-muslims in the Lebanon, Syria and Turkey goes unreported.
    There are several mentions about the UN Declaration of Human Rights on this thread. Most/all muslim countries have not signed it, choosing instead to approve their own Islamic version, the Cairo Declaration. This is why Copts are persecuted in Egypt.
    However, Islamic countries use the UN declaration to further the advance of Islam. In the last few days the UN outlawed defamation of religion, with Islam being the only religion named.

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  • 42. At 6:12pm on 06 Apr 2009, StephenGash wrote:

    #27 Suffolkboy2: "My position on an English parliament is that we should not have one but that we should have parliaments for various regions, like the Germans, the Swiss the Australians etc. I suggest that the parliaments would be represented in the House of Lords - similar to the German system."
    I'll not support that while Scotland has its own parliament. The reason England is being carved up is for the sake of the United (don't laugh) Kingdom. If the UK is all important then Scotland should have been bust up into Highlands, Lowlands and Islands regions too. Wales and N. Ireland should be regions and each national identity erased, with the UK becoming the nation. However, it is only England that is expected to suffer extinction, with the rest retaining their nation status.
    There is no guarantee that Scotland, and then Wales and N. Ireland won't still go for independence, and if they do where does that leave the English? No country, no nation and controlled entirely from Brussels. No thanks.

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  • 43. At 6:57pm on 06 Apr 2009, betuli wrote:

    (38) Freeman wrote:

    "Have you been to Gibraltar? Even with the present day Spaniards, they try and bully Gibraltar into joining Spain in a manner that makes the British look positively above board and innocent."

    If you consider "bully" claiming what is written in the Utrecht Treaty, in other words, comply with the law, OK, Spain is bullying Gibraltar. But nothing else.

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  • 44. At 9:33pm on 06 Apr 2009, threnodio wrote:

    #42 - StephenGash

    Highlands and Islands, Shetland Islands, Lothian and Borders, I would have said but still with a Scottish Parliament. That way, you could regionalise England legitimately but have an English Parliament.

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  • 45. At 10:57pm on 06 Apr 2009, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    As to the what this thread was theoretically about :o) , we haven't heard that Obama suggested a total dis-armament worldwide.
    ?

    Same news about scenery, flowers decorating the stage, saw the gathering in the square, then listened of course to the piece where he mentions Russia, like "they also have own interests that may differ from ours but we are to respect theirs" etc.

    On NATO meeting, the stress here was on Turkey being against the new NATO director? Secretary? and how Turkey was convinced to OK his candidature.
    Then of course a lot about the new NATO Head personality, a documentary on his career before the appointment, and what to expect, judging from the past - quite mainstream "classic NATO" personality.

    And then Russian media happily returned to the more exciting subject :o)- that is, the menu the G-20 were treated with in London, and who the cook is, and where were the ingredients from, plus various interesting details of the London part, and cultural programmes the spouses were treated to, and where is what exhibition. And then they totally stuck at the top important int'l issue, that is - how the first ladies were dressed up, at some formal lunch, in the London Royal? Opera. And dis-assembled poor first ladies' attires absolutely to hand bags, the only 2 ones that passed the scrutiny of "appropriatness of dress code for the London Opera Theatre venue" were President of Mexico spouse, plus surprise surprise M-me Barroso won compliments.
    Some turned down on LOL "all correct. But boring!" others - "all fine. But look at this bag "from another opera"!" :o) "would be excellent. if not for the colour of the shoes!" :o) "great! for an outdoor walk in the lawn in front of.. " "don't you see the Japanese style is more elegant than South Korean... :o) etc.

    Personally, staring at group photos I decided the India's first lady is dressed best - because nothing could beat her sari in elegance.

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  • 46. At 09:42am on 07 Apr 2009, Buzet23 wrote:

    #42, StephenGash,

    If you want to see how this idea of regions does not work just take a look at Belgium with its three regions, Flanders, Wallon and Brussels. Wherever there are language or ethnic differences the regions simply become a centre of horse trading and the settling of old scores. The Belgian scenario was and is very typical of that, if a much needed road was to be built in one region the other had to have the same and likewise for anything else. If the UK became regional now, the resurgence of 'old' languages in Wales, Ireland and Scotland would create exactly the same problems we experience in Belgium now. Your freedom of movement throughout the UK would be lost in the requirement to speak the local language (with its inherent Nationalism) as well as all the others. Thus to work in the UK you would need to speak at least three of the four languages, before your qualifications and experience were even looked at, and even if those languages were not used in the workplace. Is this a fantasy, I'm afraid not, in Belgium almost every job advertisement you see requires French, Dutch and English, and often other languages such as German or Italian, maybe in the future Arabic languages will be also needed. Therefore I say to you that regions are a Pandora's box, nice in theory but dangerous in practice, and benefiting only the politicians and civil servants who work there.

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  • 47. At 12:15pm on 07 Apr 2009, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    WebAlice #29. What is a "reasonable" reaction to North Korea when it is trying to build atom bombs and ICBMs to attackt the US because it is the defender that prevents it from taking over South Korea? The only "reasonable" response that sounds reasonable to me is to stop it before it goes any further and talking or sanctions or UN resolutions will not stop it. The only way to stop it is to go after it and blow it up. Same with Iran. Now what is YOUR reasonable solution? The US has used all of those means I specified above you'd call "reasonable" for fifteen years and it hasn't worked. How much longer do we have to be "reasonable" about it? Until they Nuke San Francisco?

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  • 48. At 12:58pm on 07 Apr 2009, Isenhorn wrote:

    Finally! The wait is over! North Korea's 'Grand Plan' revealed by the prophet MAII (year 10 BNKE) (BKNE= Before North Korean Empire).

    'North Korea when it is trying to build atom bombs and ICBMs to attackt the US because it is the defender that prevents it from taking over South Korea'

    To re-cap: North Korea builds atom bombs and missiles, attacks the USA, quickly dispatches it and then with no obstruction whatsoever conquers South Korea. From there it is but a small step to North Korean World Domination. A Dark Era descends, everybody eats kimchi and tofu, listens to revolutionary songs from the N. Korean satelites and parades on the Anniversary of the Revolution.

    P.S. The citisens of San Francisko should take particular note of the MAII profecies. Their city is the first to fall...

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  • 49. At 1:15pm on 07 Apr 2009, oulematu wrote:

    To #46, Buzet23, your comments are absolutely true. There is no genuine freedom of movement without shared working language and special treatment for various regions or other collective rights only serve to curtail individual freedoms.

    In a different context - this may be a bit off-topic - your comments also nicely illustrate why freedom of movement within the EU remains largely an illusion without the option to communicate in English in public institutions in all member states. The current EU arrangement is not functional, and without federal democratic accountability and shared working language it is nothing but a house built on sand. The Lisbon treaty is an illusion as it does not fix the core issues, but only hides them behind ever more complex institutional arrangements.

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  • 50. At 2:32pm on 07 Apr 2009, Jan_Keeskop wrote:

    Buzet23: Given the preponderance of English within the UK, in contrast to the roughly 60:40 split between Dutch and French in Belgium, perhaps an adaptation of the Spanish regionalisation model of "autonomous communities" (where the Spanish language is official everywhere, and other languages can be co-official by region) would be a better match for the UK than an adaptation of the Belgian model would ?

    Perhaps those who live in Spain would comment on the pros and cons of Spanish regionalisation ?

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  • 51. At 3:55pm on 07 Apr 2009, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    MAvrelius, then figure out something clever instead of blasting them out.
    Granted Russia and China object - you are hysterical about Chernobyl trace still 20-30? years after, that reached you in milli-mini-nano spectrum to be looked at through a microscope, and when you blast a country it's kind of worse than a Chernobyl don't you think?

    To say nothing N.Korea is more populated than Chernobyl station had Ukr. staff on duty on the day.

    Instead of coming up with James Bond movies - do smth JamesBondian in reality.
    What's CIA for - can't they infiltrate via spies somehow?
    What's all US money for - can't you buy or bribe N.Korea leaders away?

    Finally - how about taking some dipolmacy courses from old Britain - and negotiating yourself Russian and Chinese OK, on some trade-offs?
    Co-operation, and int'l co-operation. N. Korea won't listen to what USA has to say, won't listen to us, but may be will listen to someone in China. or elsewhere. someone ought to be an authority to them in the world. someone they'll bend an ear to. Something they'll be allured by, to be lured out of their high fences. May be they'd like to trade with someone, what do you think? May be they'd like more choirs for recording "revolutionary songs". Why do they see you as enemy, after all?
    What prevents them from opening up to the world?

    But no instead you go the straight path - "we'll blast them the hell, ourselves, not asking anybody, and that's it."

    Because the rest is hard work and requires long effort and spend and class and some ingenuity share.
    If USA is not in the position "to make friends" - who is?

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  • 52. At 5:06pm on 07 Apr 2009, betuli wrote:

    Jan-Keespkop (50).

    In Spain there are 17 autonomous communities, and 2 autonomous cities (in North Africa). Spanish is the official language in all over the kingdom, but in seven autonomous communities there is another official language: Catalan (in four of them), Basque (in two) and Galician (which is basically Portuguese, in one).

    With Galician and Catalan there is not a communicaction problem, since they are Latin like the Spanish itself. The trouble is with Basque -a non-Indoeuropean language-, which is required in many jobs in the Basque country, although its use is not widely spread and it is hardly heard across Basque cities. Now the Basque country has a no-nationalistic government whis is likely to overturn this requirement.

    For me, at least regarding Catalan, there are only pros in this system. Being bilingual makes you more prone to learn and understand other languages, especially in this case the Latin languages. Catalan speakers, and hence Spanishspeakers (because all Catalans are bilingual), can easily understand Italian and Portuguese, and with a bit more effort, also French.

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  • 53. At 9:57pm on 07 Apr 2009, Buzet23 wrote:

    #50 Jan_Keeskop,

    I think your comment "where the Spanish language is official everywhere, and other languages can be co-official by region" sums up the problem exactly, the 'theory' does not work in practice. Were other languages to be merely co-official then maybe it would work, but the Nationalistic mentalities that abound do not want this, they insist on a formal requirement for their particular hobby horse, no matter how little it is of use in the world in general.

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  • 54. At 11:59pm on 07 Apr 2009, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    WebAlice, you think I overreact?

    "MAvrelius, then figure out something clever instead of blasting them out."

    Thank you for showing me the error of my ways. What I said was over reacting but when Putin told Poland that allowing the US to place 20 American anti-missile missiles to defend itself on Polish territory and the Czech Republic that allowing the US to base radar there would make them targets of Russian nuclear warheads, that was not over reacting. What is and isn't over reacting seems to depend on who is doing it, not why.

    "Finally - how about taking some dipolmacy courses from old Britain"

    Fine, just give me the web site and I will enroll in the Neville Chamberlain School for Peace in our Time. President Obama seems to have been one of its star alumni.

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  • 55. At 00:48am on 08 Apr 2009, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    About Lord Chamberlain I know nil. Though he is very famous in Russia as a set expression. "(here is) Our reply to Chamberlain!"

    Suppose your neighbours bring you a huge ? pumpkin (not here. but in the US they happen to grow big we heard), and you say Wow! great. But look what we've got here - here you are - this is to you, as a reply, and you suddenly produce some? equally huge? ? ? and even bigger! and nicer! far better than neighbours' ! ? ? cucumbers. And say: "This is our reply to Chamberlain!"

    (cucumbers bad example the best ones are small but I am lost thinking what can theoretically grow big in a St. Petersburg dacha).

    So I suppose this Chamberlain existed once, :o) as minimum, and that Russia was concerned about coming up with some something/ a plan? in reply to whatever he's done.

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  • 56. At 01:47am on 08 Apr 2009, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    Sorry MA that's a different Chamberlain. I googled, the one we liked was "Sir Joseph Austen Chamberlain." He was Britain's Foreign Affairs minister and once upon a time sent a note of protest to USSR. (they say 23 Feb 1927). Demanding "to stop anti-English propaganda in the USSR and to stop USSR support of some mysterious "Guomindang" Chinese party" don't ask me who they are./were.

    Somehow we got so excited about it (don't ask me why) (must be - "over-reacted", as you wrote :o)
    that there began public money donations' collection to create the second USSR airplanes' esquadrillia, called "Our reply to Chamberlain". LOL.

    The first one was called "Ultimatum", in reply to Lord Curson ultimatum (apparently he also wanted to say something), in 1923.
    _________________
    As to our reply to Pentagon, ab Polish/Czech bases, no, it is not Russian "over-reaction" to tell Poland and the Czech Republic that they would consequantly become target for Russia's weapons.

    Would I stretch truth too much to note that every similar device on the Russia's ground is targeted by the US (and Britain and whoever else is nearby) non-stop? As primary targets.
    Anything that can intercept or locate in air NATO rockets?

    Likewise anything, if installed, in Poland and in the Czech Republic that can give NATO an early warning of Russian rockets (if in air), and anything able to intercept our rockets - will become a target for us.

    This is simply constatation of the fact of NATO-Russia layout as two different systems.

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  • 57. At 02:12am on 08 Apr 2009, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    :o)

    "Volga Automobile Factory (VAZ) announced it will begin sales at a huge discount of their Lada cars in Eastern Europe.
    This is - our reply to the US plan to install there anti-missile equipment."

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  • 58. At 10:56am on 08 Apr 2009, Jan_Keeskop wrote:

    betuli: It seems as though the Basque region presents challenges that are not found in the other regions, due to the language being unrelated to the other languages of Spain. Is it only in the Basque region that one could learn Basque in the schools ?

    Do the autonomous communities receive shares of national taxes, or do they each collect their own taxes ? Do they compete amongst each other to receive money from the national government (or the EU) for infrastructure projects like roads, or is each autonomous community expected to organise the funding of its own projects ?

    Is all national government business transacted only in Spanish, or are there portions that are provided in the regional languages also ?

    Buzet23: Do the Scottish / Welsh / Ulster nationalists propose to remove official recognition of the English language, in the case of UK regionalisation ? Or is it that they seek co-official recognition of their respective regional language(s) ?

    WebAliceinwonderland: The Guomindang (or Kuomintang) is the Chinese Nationalist Party, long associated with Chiang Kai-Shek, and still the ruling party in Taiwan. I didn't know that the USSR had supported the Nationalists. It must have been before the rise of the Chinese Communist Party ?

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  • 59. At 11:26am on 08 Apr 2009, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    There in wiks in Russian it says we supported Guomindang because they were for in-dividable China. And possibly someone else had already in mind that Taiwan wants to separte from China? I am happy they are still there, pleased to see we financed someone? able to survive, like a long-term party , viable.
    Though it does seem by now their early dreams of "undividable" China didn't come true, they had to retreat to the Taiwan corner of it. Must be someone else beat them up locally.
    Still, Taiwan is better than nothing :o) for a party to finish up with, even if the rest of China they were not able to get hold of, only a piece of it. Then yes, it appears we have long historical records of supporting Taiwan ruling party LOL. Even if we didn't succeeed to support them to "full China" degrees.

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  • 60. At 12:25pm on 08 Apr 2009, Buzet23 wrote:

    #58, Jan_Keeskop,

    I have no idea what the future agenda of the UK regions would be regarding languages and which would be accredited as the official language(s). What I can say is what has happened in Belgium at this point in time, there are three official National languages, Dutch, French and German. In Wallon French is the working language although it is accepted were one of the other languages to be used, indeed I often write in English to official bodies and have never had any complaint. The situation in Flanders is somewhat different due to the strong Nationalism that exists there, it is even forbidden to use any language other than Dutch in some communes and it is certainly frowned upon in most of the rest.

    Therefore my response to your "Or is it that they seek co-official recognition of their respective regional language(s) ?" is that this is a minefield that can easily be used to promote nationalism, and to promote protectionism by making it mandatory to speak all official languages. This last effect is in fact contrary to the EU's freedom of movement laws since it actively discriminates against those not from the region concerned since their skills in a local regional language would be limited.

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  • 61. At 2:02pm on 08 Apr 2009, betuli wrote:

    Jan_Keeskop (58),

    You can learn Basque at the schools in Basque Country and in neighbouring Navarre, but here mainly in the half north of the region (the south Navarre is monolingual Spanish). I think you can also learn Basque as an optional matter in Iparralde (French Basque country). Nevertheless, Basque is only spoken in rural areas, and not in the cities nor in the south of the country, from long time ago. However, 30 years of Nationalistic rule in the region has meant an enormous effort to recover the use of this language. Now, for the first time since democracy was reinstated in Spain, there is a new Basque government, lead by the Socialist (non nationalistic), so they may be softer in trying to promote the Basque language.

    On the other hand, Basque country and Navarre are the only two Spanish regions with fiscal independence, which means they collect their own taxes and pay a small chunk to Madrid for the services provided (Defence and Foreign Affairs, mainly).

    So, Basque country, and also Navarre, are virtually independent, except from the two areas mentionned above. There's been huge controversy over the language there because Basque (which is not widely spoken and difficult to learn) is required so far in almost very job in the Basque country (things are likely to change with a non nationalistic government).

    With Catalan, it is a different story. This language is widely spoken in Catalonia, Valencian country, the Balearic Islands and eastern Aragon, so basically in Eastern Spain. It's also the official language in Andorra, and the natural language of Roussillon (Perpignan region, in France).

    Catalan is a central language between Spanish, Italian and French, with common features with these three major languages, and it has a long literary tradition. It's easy to learn and its use is required for almost any job in Catalonia and Balearic Islands.

    There is of course linguistic tensions in Spain, but in my view it is a minoritary issue, coming from people very nationalistic from both sides (Centralist and Peripheric). The most common attitude is being bilingual without getting lost in translation :-)

    Buzet23: as Latin people, most Spaniards back the Francophone Wallons against the nationalistic Flamands.

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  • 62. At 01:43am on 09 Apr 2009, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    WebAlice, how nice to know that despite Russia having many nuclear submarines that can launch hundreds of missiles from under the ocean at America, many hundreds of rockets that can be launched at America, and many long range bombers, 20 anti-missile missiles based in Poland can shift the balance of power away from Russia and towards America so effectively. In that case, we should instead install 40 :-)

    I can't help it if you don't know who Neville Chamberlain was and what critical policies his government followed that led inevitably to the greatest bloodbath in human history.

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  • 63. At 2:10pm on 09 Apr 2009, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    OK, MA. Live and learn, and all. Looked up the other, why, they are even half-brothers to each other! and both - Sirs and Chamberlains. What do you want from a Russian. Their own father could be confused. :o)

    Sir Joseph Austen Chamberlain Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (1924-1929)
    and his half-brother
    Sir Arthur Neville Camberlain Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1937-1940)

    After the first one became so famous in Russia, no chance for us to learn about the second one. :o) Note that our favourite, who protested to us - was as min a Nobel Prize laureate, so national combined Russian memory chose quite well, who of the two to remember. And keep around in circulation in proverbs and sayings.

    Overall, MA - Russians are not BBC. Who miraculously manage to turn any "pro-Russian" world news into "anti-Russian". Just read a BBC article ab Georgians protesting Saakashvili. They chose the day when they are the least likely to be killed by him for that - 9th of April, 20 yrs anniversary of Soviet army destroying the demonstration in Tbilisi on the same square when Georgians wanted independence, out of the USSR. So the stakes today are that Saakashvili won't like to be seen as Soviet army of 1989, and will be tender to his protesters. (who demand him out).
    Now, when you read that, there is a brief mention that Saakashvili is asked out, which is supposed to be today's news - and a solid description in pictures and videos and interviews of the horrors of people killed in the 1989 on the same spot. None of the memoirs care to note that Soviet army in 1989 included same very Georgians, and other Caucasus division folk, one has to presume it's all evil Russians arrived from Moscow to kill democratic Georgia.

    So here is to you a demonstrative difference, MA.

    When any world news does not concern Russia directly or our "sphere of influence" - Russian/or Soviet media, and historiography, is not in the habit to pick in foreign alien none of our business ulcers.

    This approach may be stupid. Or may be wise. The other, "wrong" Chamberlain is not pedalled in Russian history. Neither any country else's faults and mistakes. In the past or present. Neither a "pro-Russian" country's, nor "anti-Russian" country's faults or victories or whatever. Unless it concerns us.

    And we wonder when we see it differently with others. We take it as a very un-friendly stand, to poke nose into affairs btw two alien to your own one country.

    There are disadvantages in this approach, in terms of overall education.
    And there are advantages as well; you don't have to shake air and apply laborous effort and lose time pretending to be an expert in things where you didn't have a foot in, or a glance into.

    Besides, it makes Russians naturally friendly to many countries, of whose doings and affairs in the past (in the part that does not involve Russia) we know nil. We have nothing "to forget and forgive".

    So, btw, I have to confess, about Mugabe and what he was up to and even where - I also know nil. Very vague ideas.

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  • 64. At 2:49pm on 09 Apr 2009, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    Anyway, what's the point for you to know? In order to announce forever after that "The 2nd world war began 1 September 1939" ? As it stands in the "Western historiography". LOL!

    You don't think such a date chosen is jeering at common sense. By the 1st September when Hitler entered Poland, China already lost 20 million (!) - dead - only - to say nothing of "wounded", to Japan.

    For China, Abissinia, Spain, Austria, Chezchoslovakia - does the war began on 1st September 1939 ??? Or are they not "world"? Or even - the later ones - not "EU"? Simply, went out for a walk?

    I wonder how they study now in Czech Republic that "The second world war began 1 September 1939". And before that it was simply Hitler joking.

    Germany left League of Nations 14 Oct 1933, and refused to take part in Geneva conference on dis-armament.

    24 July 1934 Germany attempted the first anschlus of Austria.

    3 Oct 1935 Italy blasted into Ethiopia, Italo-Abyssinia war, occupation 1936-1941, until Britain liberated them in 1941.

    7 Mar 1936 Hitler takes Rhein zone.

    March 1938 - Hitler joins in whole Austria.
    October 1938 - Hitler occupies Sudetenland, property of Czechoslovakia.
    15 March 1939 - Hitler occupies Czech (with Hungary and Poland participating in the division and shares).

    7 April 1939 Hitler occupies Albania.
    If it is not a creeping advance through Europe, country after country - what is it?

    As to Asia - Japan took Northern China and Manchuria already in 1931.
    7 July 1937 Japan began full-scale war, moving deep into China.

    In 1938 and in 1939 Japan tried to spill out of China into Russia, we fought them bloodily, by Khasan lake and Khalhin-Hall battle.

    One of your own men, FYI, Roosevelt's Defence minister, G.Stimson, also Foreign Affairs minister at Hoover considered that "the 2nd World War began on the rails of Mukden". That is - 1931, Northern China.

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