This is the year. 2014 will mark the historic referendum in which Scotland, yet again, votes whether or not to secede from the United Kingdom and go it alone. Having read Halting State, Charlie Stross‘ fantastic novel set in the nation of Scotland in 2018, there’s a whole realm of aesthetic and imagination and possibility associated with the prospects of an independent Edinburgh. Others are just as interested: Tyler Cowen makes one of the economic arguments against Scottish independence, and Tom Ricks asks all the questions, But part of my interest lies in more prosaic matters: namely, where do the nukes go?
Scotland’s defense policy would likely align much more closely with those of Norway and Denmark than with its southern neighbor. Between North Sea oil and Arctic issues, Holyrood’s posture and attention would be directed entirely upwards. And of all the realms in which nuclear weapons might not have such great utility (especially not as large submarine-borne countervalue weapons), the Arctic is probably #1. If NATO plays it cool and avoids major engagements, then a single brigade might just cut it. But otherwise that might be wishful thinking.
The Firth of Clyde is of major importance to the Royal Navy. But the shipbuilding contracts there are likely to depart along with UK forces. These could be repurposed by Scotland for new construction to augment its few unarmed fishery protection vessels (this, of course, depends on what Edinburgh is able to successfully wrest away from London). But more importantly, the Clyde is the heart of the British nuclear deterrent.
Right now, the UK’s four Vanguard-class Trident SSBNs are based at HM Naval Base Clyde at Faslane in the Clyde, with additional support coming from RNAD Coulport. And this is no abberration; Scotland has been critical to the UK deterrent from its inception. In 1963, when the Royal Navy was looking into acquiring Polaris from the United States, it drew up a short list of ten candidate sites for basing nuclear submarines. Of the ten, six were in Scotland. But what about the others? Would they play host to an atomic arsenal in the 21st century?
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It’s official: Star Trek is now officially a part of Texas law. Ruling in Robinson v. Crown Cork Seal Co., Justice Don Willett cited an ancient maxim as the basis for his decision:
Appropriately weighty principles guide our course. First, we recognize that police power draws from the credo that “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” Second, while this maxim rings utilitarian and Dickensian (not to mention Vulcan), it is cabined by something contrarian and Texan: distrust of intrusive government and a belief that police power is justified only by urgency, not expediency.
A brief mention, to be sure, but then in the footnotes appears this passage:
See STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN (Paramount Pictures 1982). The film references several works of classic literature, none more prominently than A Tale of Two Cities. Spock gives Admiral Kirk an antique copy as a birthday present, and the film itself is bookended with the book’s opening and closing passages. Most memorable, of course, is Spock’s famous line from his moment of sacrifice: “Don’t grieve, Admiral. It is logical. The needs of the many outweigh . . .” to which Kirk replies, “the needs of the few.”
Radley Balko will be so proud. Not only did the decision invoke Vulcans, but it rolled back the state and arbitrary powers of excess for the police. The Wrath of Khan is now legal precedent in the State of Texas. Highly logical, indeed.
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This article reads like a serious version of the above cartoon PSA: “Standards are rapidly changing, and within a few years the human race will be in a position in which sexual immorality could exist on a widespread scale.”
It all depends how you define immorality, but I’d like to believe we’re there already. The future is now!
Via The Agitator.
And by paradise, I of course mean NATO. Turkey has called an emergency meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in order to discuss the recent Israeli attack on the Gaza-bound flotilla. It’s a fairly routine response to such an event, except for what it might actually mean for the alliance and for Israel. As a refresher, Article Five of the treaty:
The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.
Now, consider Article Six – and keep in mind that one of the flotilla ships, the MV Mavi Mamara, is Turkish-flagged:
For the purpose of Article 5, an armed attack on one or more of the Parties is deemed to include an armed attack:
- on the forces, vessels, or aircraft of any of the Parties, when in or over these territories or any other area in Europe in which occupation forces of any of the Parties were stationed on the date when the Treaty entered into force or the Mediterranean Sea or the North Atlantic area north of the Tropic of Cancer [emphasis mine].
There is a whole world of possibility here, virtually none of it good. Whatever the justification is for Israel’s actions, it’s clear there are going to be consequences, the severity of which have yet to be determined.
Unfortunately, I cannot recall the exact source I saw this in (if you know it, remind me), but if there was an “international aid flotilla” steaming for Turkey with its supplies bound for the Kurds, would Ankara act much differently? It’s a good point – but the current membership of NATO renders such a hypothetical mostly irrelevant.
This could very well mean the beginning of the end for the Atlantic alliance. It will at least pose a serious dilemma in terms of composition. After all, who right now is more aligned with policy and public sentiment in Europe: Turkey, or America?
Scott Lemieux in The American Prospect has a particularly good grasp on how the nomination process to replace Justice Stevens should go. It’s rather sad that even in a Democraticly-controlled Congress and with a Democrat in the White House, we’re treating all executive nominations as if this was 1997 and the Republicans were in power. But this is not the time to settle. Aim high, and either get it all or get most of it:
It might be objected at this point that a nominee like [Pamela] Karlan or [Harold] Koh might compel a Republican filibuster … In the (probably unlikely) possibility that a filibuster of a nominee holds, the result would be the eventual confirmation of a more moderate nominee. If Obama preemptively nominates a moderate nominee, the result would be … exactly the same.
[With] Republican obstructionism in the Senate virtually maxed out, there’s no reason to believe that a Republican filibuster would incur any net political cost. If anything, it would provide ammunition for a narrative painting the Republicans as the “Party of No” while providing a venue for defending liberal constitutional values. And finally, the filibustering of a Supreme Court nominee for the first time since 1968 (and second total) would escalate the cycle that is likely to lead to the elimination or substantial modification of the filibuster rule — something that would be a massive victory for democracy.
We’ve tried the bipartisan cooperative route, and it was pretty clear from the start that Republicans had no interest in that (and finally, Axelrod is coming around). Time to stop trying; the actual goals (say no) of the Republican Party are completely clear at this point. “If we win, we win. If we lose, we still win.”
Via Lawyers, Guns, & Money.
Robert Fisk, writing in the Independent, has portrayed Israel as a self-hating, self-destructive state whose very existence is unjust. I can’t quote at length, as the piece is too sarcastic in decrying the “Israel under siege” mentality and as we all know, sarcasm doesn’t translate well on the internet.
Britain – this came yesterday from Israel’s ambassador in London, no less – is “a battlefield” in which Israel’s enemies wish to “de-legitimise” the 62-year-old Jewish state…
…Israel the underdog. Israel the victim. Israel whose state-of-the-art, more-moral-than-any-other army was now in danger of seeing its generals arraigned on war crimes charges if they set foot in Europe…
…One of the most distressing moments at Herzliya came when Lorna Fitzsimons, former Labour MP and now head of Bicom, a British-based pro-Israeli think-tank, pointed out that “public opinion does not influence foreign policy in Britain. Foreign policy is an elite issue.” Deal with the elite, and the proles will follow – that was the implication. “Our enemies are going out to international courts where we are not supreme,” she said…
…Alas, no Kahan Commissions for Israel today. No judgment for Gaza. Just a slap on the wrist for a couple of officers who used phosphorus and a criminal charge against a soldier for stealing credit cards…
…All of which suggests that the real earthquake beneath Israel, the real danger to its image and standing and legitimacy, is a nation called Israel.
Brilliant, Fisk. First you imply that any Israeli fear of a growing sense of illegitimacy is pure hogwash, and then conclude your idiotic ramblings with a suggestion that the nation probably doesn’t deserve to exist, thereby proving your earlier point wrong (and reminding us again and again that anti-Israeli – and not just anti-Zionist sentiment is alive and well). Well-played.
From the New York Times:
Sweeping aside a century-old understanding and overruling two important precedents, a bitterly divided Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that the government may not ban political spending by corporations in candidate elections
The ruling was a vindication, the majority said, of the First Amendment’s most basic free speech principle — that the government has no business regulating political speech. The dissenters said allowing corporate money to flood the political marketplace will corrupt democracy.
The 5-to-4 decision was a doctrinal earthquake but also a political and practical one. Specialists in campaign finance law said they expected the decision, which also applies to labor unions and other organizations, to reshape the way elections are conducted.
So now money equals speech? It’s the easy way to win an argument: they make a point, you give them $10, you win the argument.
This has been a terrible, terrible week. The kind where you stay in bed for fear of what might come tomorrow.