Thursday, 10 January 2013

Big Bangs And Bigger Bangs

This post is longer and more complicated than most.  The preference is to keep them simple but sometimes it is not always possible.

One blog that often has things of deeper interest as well as some technical discussion on how it is all done, is Bruce Schneier, whose expertise is in security and its management and governance.

He picked up on a post by Jacobin (see below) about the essential policy and idea of security and how it is governed.


What do these three implications -- states have a great deal of freedom to determine what threatens a people and how to respond to those threats, and in making those determinations, they are influenced by the interests and ideologies of their primary constituencies. 

States have strong incentives and have been given strong justifications for exaggerating threats; and while states aspire, rhetorically, to a unity of will and judgment, they seldom achieve it in practice -- tell us about the relationship between security and freedom?

What light do they shed on the question of why security is such a potent argument for the suppression of rights and liberties?

Security is an ideal language for suppressing rights because it combines a universality and neutrality in rhetoric with a particularity and partiality in practice. Security is a good that everyone needs, and, we assume, that everyone needs in the same way and to the same degree.

It is "the most vital of all interests," John Stuart Mill wrote, which no one can "possibly do without." Though Mill was referring here to the security of persons rather than of nations or states, his argument about personal security is often extended to nations and states, which are conceived to be persons writ large.

Unlike other values -- say justice or equality -- the need for and definition of security is not supposed to be dependent upon our beliefs or other interests and it is not supposed to favor any one set of beliefs or interests. It is the necessary condition for the pursuit of any belief or interest, regardless of who holds that belief or has that interest. It is a good, as I've said, that is universal and neutral. That's the theory.

The reality, as we have seen, is altogether different. The practice of security involves a state that is rife with diverse and competing ideologies and interests, and these ideologies and interests fundamentally help determine whether threats become a focus of attention, and how they are perceived and mobilized against.

The provision of security requires resources, which are not limitless. They must be distributed according to some calculus, which, like the distribution calculus of any other resource (say income or education), will reflect controversial and contested assumption about justice and will be the subject of debate.

National security is as political as Social Security, and just as we argue about the latter, so do we argue about the former.


The above derives from a long post which is an analysis of the State and Security in terms suggested by the philosopher, Thomas Hobbes (see Wikipedia) by Jacobin, link below.  What it is driving at is that states tend to want to keep security as a “non political” function when in reality it is just as political as any other aspect of government.  It is a serious piece and not for skip reading.

Although it might seem unrelated the question of Cyprus banking, its perilous state, and the need for major European bail outs to survive do not look at first sight to be a security matter.  Unluckily it is just that.

Because the banks in real trouble in Cyprus have been central to extensive massive money laundering activities of funny money, allegedly these are substantially Russian interests.  Whether these are the same Russians who are being welcomed into the UK to prop up our financial system is not clear.

This subject has been picked up by Zero Hedge, link below, setting out the severe risks that this entails for Europe.  The Slog has also commented on the issue.  If Europe bails out Cyprus it is paying off the hoods. 

If it does not bail out Cyprus then fuses may start to blow and who knows what the hoods might do?  Suddenly, a lot of places could find themselves with major internal and security problems that they are not prepared for.

Cyprus, in the Eastern Mediterranean, is adjacent to Crete and Santorini. At a date now suggested as 1628 BC a major magma chamber blew under Santorini, an island of modest size.  It did for the advanced Minoan civilization in Crete and had catastrophic effects around the Med’.  Wikipedia lists it under Minoan Eruption.

Beyond, it is alleged to have impacted with serious effects on both Northern Europe and across the Northern Hemisphere.  How far its reach was world wide is a subject of debate.

So if the Cyprus issue leads to all sorts of difficulties and other problems, it would not be the first time that a big bang in that vicinity led to bigger bangs of another sort.  One suggestion is that it might affect the German elections coming up soon.

One awkward question which might become an election issue in the UK is if we find ourselves faced with demands for Russian bail outs via Europe on security grounds.  It is possible that the US State Department hasn’t got round to that one.  If they have then this might explain their desire for the UK and The City to be in Europe

Because someone is going to have to pay and neither Moscow nor Washington DC will want to.

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