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Messages - Snarky

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Presumably because the whole game isn't going to be 8-bit. :P

what are the chances you (or we) will solve them in the Middle East or North Africa?

Well the roadmap is pretty clear:

You're dodging my point: Will this make, in the foreseeable future, the Middle East more prosperous, stable, free and socially just than France? Because according to the logic of your argument, that's what it will take to end fanaticism and the violence it brings.

1) Stop relying on oil, (that, you do at home, by investing in renewable energies)

So take away one of the main pillars of the economies of many Middle Eastern countries. This helps them how?

2)Stop maintaining chaos there only to please some financial partners (either to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia, or to not upset Israel when it comes to Palestine).

As I've argued in several posts now, I don't think the basic assumption here is true. The link between these claims is also obscure. Are you saying that the main motivations for US and European foreign policy in the Middle East are the presumably vast profits earned from selling weapons to Saudi Arabia and from "not upsetting Israel"? (How do they even get money from the latter?) It sounds more like you're just throwing together various points you don't like about the foreign policy, without really bothering to articulating a coherent pattern.

All of that sounds fairly easy, provided there's the will. It's not even about willpower, it's purely about stop believing in fairytales like "it helps more to divide local populations to maintain control than it would help to let them live". It's all about post-colonization management and outdated, colonial beliefs.

So would you say your basic assumption is that all the problems in the Middle East are caused by Western meddling, and that if Western powers stopped actively "maintaining chaos", things would rapidly work out to a happy conclusion?

PS: Maoism died out in China only because the country gained sufficient financial stability and political independance at some stage. Before Mao arrived, it was a rotting feudal empire, dealing with a stagnating economy and invasive neighbours (Japan, Russia...).  Now China is more about middle class and consumerism than whatever revolutionary movement.

Maoism was effectively abandoned in China because Mao died, and other old-school ideologues were purged. This happened soon after the enormous upheavals of the Cultural Revolution (with massive political instability and economic hardship), hardly proving your point.

Also, about the fanaticals coming from France and Belgium: you'd be surprised by the poverty in some areas. [...] In France, if you live in a project housing, are unemployed, and on top of everything if you have the Arabian type, then you're virtually  at the very bottom of society. But they're the same. And it's all caused by poverty, lack of education, and rejection. They're the "left behind".

Yes, but my point is that if France can't successfully solve these social problems at home, what are the chances you (or we) will solve them in the Middle East or North Africa? It's absolutely something we should work toward for its own sake, but it's not going to eliminate fanaticism, because "richer and more stable (and freer and more socially just) than France" is not a realistic goal for the foreseeable future. (We could also point to Saudi Arabia, which is about as rich and stable as any country in the region, and still the main exporter of radical Islamic ideology.)

Edit: To make a positive argument instead of just disagreeing with everyone, I'm forced to the conclusion that we cannot "solve" modern jihadism and the civil wars and terrorism it brings, no matter what strategy we choose. Eventually it will burn itself out, lose its fervor as it becomes institutionalized (like the Maoists in China), or the world will simply change so that it's no longer relevant (like the anarchists a hundred years ago). In the mean time, there will be more Muslim battlefields, and more attacks by radicalized homegrown terrorists in the West. We'll just have to muddle through, trying to contain the damage and address related problems without making the cure worse than the disease. The most appropriate means will vary depending on the situation, and will take a great deal of experimentation and study to identify.

I'm actually also increasingly skeptical of the effectiveness of military force in the long run, but I don't agree with ruling it out in principle in every case.

I agree with Snarky on this one.  Fanatics are rarely satisfied with anything.  Give them what they want and they will be emboldened and want even more.  People who believe they can get whatever they want through violence will not be persuaded otherwise until they are met with force and utterely defeated.  It's as true now as it has been throughout history.

But that's not true either! There are plenty of examples throughout history of terrorists and other violent groups that eventually laid down their arms without ever being "utterly defeated" by force (or achieving their ultimate goal). Take the IRA and their Unionist foes, for example. Or communist revolutionaries in many countries who eventually moderated their views and formed modern, democratic Labor parties.

Of course, it seems impossible to make peace with ISIS/Daesh right now. (Their stated aim is to provoke war between the West and the Muslim world, so when you say we mustn't "give them what they want" ...) But things change. People change, leadership changes, ideas change. Compromises that once seemed impossible may, in time, turn out to be livable. All is possible.

I explained exactly how. Fell free not to listen. Fanaticals are stopped by stability and economic heatlh.

Perhaps (it certainly can't hurt), but many of the ISIS/Daesh fighters come from Europe, and most of the Paris attackers were French or Belgian. If France and Belgium aren't stable/economically healthy enough to avert fanaticism, it'll be a long time before the Middle East is.

The exact opposite of military interventions. They're incompatible. They don't mix. At all. Ever.

That's just not true. You're reasoning as if the alternative to military intervention is peace, like everything is going to be fine as long as we don't meddle, but that's usually not the case. Military interventions have defended democratically elected governments against attempted military coups (e.g. in the Philippines), ended (or averted likely) ethnic cleansing (e.g. in Cambodia and Kosovo), forced belligerents to lay down their arms (e.g. in Liberia), brought civil wars to an end (e.g. in the Ivory Coast), and restricted the operation of marauding guerillas and pirates.

Is military intervention enough by itself to bring lasting peace? No, of course not. But in a number of cases it does appear to have been a necessary component. Whether an intervention in justified or well-advised in a particular case, under what circumstances an intervention is likely to be successful, its pros and cons, and the moral or utilitarian calculus of even a successful intervention are matters for debate, but it's simply wrong to claim that military interventions have never helped secure stability.

Also, as a mattter of unpleasant fact, there have been fanatical insurgencies that have been defeated simply by crushing them militarily. For example, the Mahdist War in the Sudan was ended when British troops finally beat the mahdist fighters and killed the leaders. More recently, the civil war in Sri Lanka was ended with the brutal crushing of the equally brutal Tamil Tigers.

The age of Nelly draws near...

<----- Thanks for the Rogues Gallery portrait, Ali!

Yes, let's get back to the topic at hand. I just read this, which I think is a good overview of the past and possible future of the war in Syria:

I am a little surprised at the zeal you have for your opinion too, Snarky.

I've had a particular dislike for this, IMO, myth ever since the "No blood for oil" slogans against the Iraq war. I think it's a dangerous distortion of what most modern wars are really primarily about: achieving policy objectives.

Although I'd rather stay neutral on the matter There's a few commonly known facts at play here.
1) War is good for the US economy

[Citation needed]

2) War gets the citizen buy in to increase the national debt via such spending

Why would this matter? This is a matter for Congress (which routinely votes to increase it, except when trying to use it as a lever against other policies), and most citizens have only a vague notion that it is huge.

[3) Going to war historically = a second presidential term

Not really true. Since WWII, the only presidents who have not gotten a second term are Kennedy, Johnson, Ford, Carter, and Bush 41. Kennedy was killed, and Ford was done in by his pardon of Nixon (on top of having become president by default in the first place, having never been popularly elected). Of the remaining, the main reason LBJ didn't seek a second term was that the Vietnam war had made him deeply unpopular. George Bush lost even though the first Gulf War had been (from the US perspective) a great success just a few months earlier. Carter's big problem was the Iranian hostage crisis. In that case, perhaps a more martial response would have improved his prospects.

But overall, modern history does not support the idea that wars help presidential reelections.

4) The US would prefer to control global natural resources than deplete their own.

In fact, the opposite is true. The US is all about "energy independence", achieved in the short term by US oil and gas drilling.

Nor does the US to any meaningful extent "control" natural resources in other countries any more. They do generally support extraction and sale on international markets as part of the worldwide capitalist trade system, and US companies own stakes or are otherwise involved in many of those activities, but that's not the same thing.

It's not possible because it doesn't make sense. AGS, like any reasonable 2.5D engine, assumes that Z-order (distance) is transitive: If A (the walkbehind) is in front of B (the object) and B is in front of C (the astronaut), then A is in front of C. You'll have to somehow draw the bit that violates this property manually on a dynamic sprite to fake it (e.g. draw the walkbehind on the object).

Misj', I respect your decision, but let me try to clarify a couple of points:

I wasn't really trying to argue that you believe in a conspiracy-theory view of the world. I was rather trying to explain why I think the argument you were making (specifically about what early non-intervention in Syria could imply) only works if we accept a conspiracy-theory view. If you reject conspiracy theories, I think your argument has to be rejected as well. I don't feel you ever really responded to that.

You're also mischaracterizing the logical fallacy I accused you of. It was directed very specifically at the assertion I think can be paraphrased as "War is good for arms dealers. Western governments deal arms. Therefore war is good for Western governments." I hold that this is a clear example of the fallacy of composition: To be clear, I don't think everything you've been saying is a fallacy as a whole (even if I disagree), just this particular bit.

Excellent! Glad it's working for you!

It's quite another thing to argue that they deliberately conspire to sow and prolong wars, and make sure that their governments don't do the things that would actually help resolve the conflicts. That is, by definition, a conspiracy theory.
And again, I never argued that. At best I argued that your earlier argument was (or could easily be interpreted as) in favor of this explanation. By definition what I argued was not a conspiracy theory; as a matter of fact I clearly stated: I also don't believe in some shadow government that controls the world ... . But then again, I don't think you need some 'higher power' to create chaos and conflict. And that has been the basic starting-point for all my arguments. So again, you're arguing something I didn't say, and put a label on it (paranoia, conspiracy theory) that is not valid.

My point is that in order for this argument (that reluctance to intervene in Syria supports the idea that Western countries go to war to make money for the weapons industry) to work, you do have to assume that they have an almost occult ability to foresee the future, are unrepetantly evil, and are able to wield decisive influence over such policy decisions. And if you accept the argument, what you end up with is:

-Whenever Western countries go to war, that decision is made to benefit weapons manufacturers
-Whenever Western countries choose not to intervene resolutely in a conflict, and things still get worse, that decision was also made to benefit weapons manufacturers

ending the war quickly and early might not be in the best interest of those selling the weapons (some of whom are western governments as OUXX pointed out). That does NOT argue an evil scheme, a pupetmaster, or even that 'lack of military intervention' is in any way proof of either.

Like I said, I think it does. But also, I think you're committing a logical fallacy here. OK, let's grant that all things being equal, prolonging the war in Syria might benefit weapons manufacturers (we'd need some info on where they're getting most of the weapons from to say how much Western companies are profiting, but let's assume they do). And yes, some Western governments are big weapons exporters. But here's where it falls down, because governments are much more than that, and all things are definitely NOT equal. If you look at just a slightly bigger picture, it's obvious that ongoing chaos and misery in Syria is NOT in the best interest of these countries, financially or politically (just look at what's happening!), and the politicians making the decisions would obviously realize that.

Are you claiming no one in the west (including government officials who make the decision to go to war) has made any profit of it?

No, but I don't think it's a big factor. Corruption exists, obviously, but ultimately the decisions of whether to go to war are up to the highest leaders, who tend to be more concerned with their political careers and legacies than with making a few bucks for themselves (which they can typically do in other ways, anyway).

US general Smidley D. Butler argued in his book 'war is a racket' (1935) that the profitability of war (not to all, but to some) causes it to be both fraudulent and continuous. So it can be argued that the only way to stop war it not make sure it's not profitable to anyone. Now, much has changed since he published that book, but I honestly don't believe that things have change that much.

I think things have changed massively since that time, whether or not he was right in the first place.

Look, there are many valid criticisms to be made of US hegemony, the philosophies and practices of foreign intervention, the belief in military solutions to deep-rooted problems, the military-industrial complex and the war on terror. But I don't buy for a second that the reason Western powers start or intervene in these wars is greed (whether an intent to plunder or to sell).

I'm just barely beginning to understand what it means, and I'm starting to feel that this is currently to complicated for me as I'm just a beginner, so I have been thinking of coming up with an easier solution altogether and perhaps save these functions for a later project when I have more experience.

I mean, the code is there, so if it's not working there's probably just some small error somewhere. I'm guessing you're not actually calling it: it's not enough to add this script to your project, you have to actually use it when you interact with those objects, you know.

Is there a command for changing the script of a hotspot like this?

Just add an if/else condition to the interaction handler. So instead of something like "when the player clicks on the object, go to this position, say this line, and add this inventory item", you put "when the player clicks on the object, if they are in the right walkable area then go to this position, say this line and add this inventory item, else just say this other line". But that's the same thing you can do to make the character actually do the walking/teleportation, so if you can get it working you could just do that.

If you look at Khris's code, you can use it to fill in the gaps in what I gave you (or you can just use his directly, just changing some of the coordinate values), and so within the constraints you mention (blocking walks, teleportations to outside of the teleportation regions), that ought to... work.

I suggest changing the angle of perspective for a better view. Well Busra is the perfect location to begin with and than to follow the bread crumbs into the modern world.

Can't you just say what you mean instead of giving vague hints and leaving it to us to guess what you're trying to imply?

I think it takes an unreasonable amount of paranoia to think that arms manufacturers dictated that Europe and the US not intervene more decisively in the early stages of the Syrian civil war, on the calculation that this would mean a longer, more brutal and therefore more profitable war for them in the end. That's "evil mastermind" stuff.
First of all, I think the correct word is cynicism not paranoia (it's not 'believing they are after you', but 'they are in it for themselves').

No, it's paranoia if it amounts to believing that the world is ruled in secret by unseen forces, and that any decision that is made, whatever it is, is ultimately in their interest.

It's one thing to argue that arms manufacturers lobby for military intervention in foreign conflicts because that means they'll sell more weapons. We can debate how much that ultimately affects the political decisions, but it's a straightforward, plausible argument. It's quite another thing to argue that they deliberately conspire to sow and prolong wars, and make sure that their governments don't do the things that would actually help resolve the conflicts. That is, by definition, a conspiracy theory. And when you start to argue that even lack of military intervention is part of their evil scheme, you've constructed theory that is no longer tethered to empirical fact: any observation whatsoever can be fit into the story.

(I would tend to think that because of the length and turnaround time on military contracts, the industry's lobbying is more about convincing governments that they need to prepare for future conflicts, as well as lobbying for permission to export to questionable buyers, than actively trying to get countries embroiled in wars. That's just my intuition, though.)

As pointed out by OUXX, the countries who play the biggest role in deciding how to move forward are also the biggest arms dealers (that is not: the biggest arms dealers come from these countries, the countries themselves are (said to be) these arms dealers). That means that - whether we like it or not - war is part of their business model and thus (potentially) in their national interest (as long as the war is not brought to their own soil).

It does not mean that "war is part of their business model" (even if the US exports arms for 10 billion dollars a year – much of that in military aid, so at a loss – the US GDP is 16.7 trillion dollars). It means that military superiority (and the ability to share that with whom they choose) is part of how they project power internationally.

And are you seriously claiming that these wars are turning a financial profit for the West? Even before getting into things like economic disruption (depressing the world economy), refugees, increased oil prices, and other pricey effects, I find that wildly implausible.

Oh please, give me a break!

And for the record, a pretty good example on how the world works in today. Don't worry, it's English.
Youtube: sneak peek

What are you saying? The US (and other nations) have been supporting certain rebel groups in Syria to fight against Assad and ISIS? Sure, there's nothing secret about that. And I think the video shows some of the difficulties of the situation, and the comparative powerlessness of the US (and by extension its European allies).

I would say that this would be the easiest thing, not an almost impossible one. Just sell everyone weapons, and watch the unrest and chaos spread. If your only goal is instability you don't have to worry about policies, supporting single sides, or who is going to win.

I thought we were discussing whether the policies of Western governments were set by the weapons industry, not whether those companies may be involved in other shit. I think it takes an unreasonable amount of paranoia to think that arms manufacturers dictated that Europe and the US not intervene more decisively in the early stages of the Syrian civil war, on the calculation that this would mean a longer, more brutal and therefore more profitable war for them in the end. That's "evil mastermind" stuff.

And I just don't believe they wield that much influence. The decision of whether or not to go to war is better explained by the familiar factors: protecting national interests by supporting allies and governments open to your influence, trying to expand the reach of your ideology (democracy, capitalism, secularism), curtailing the influence of rival powers, trying to maintain stability when possible, (yes) humanitarian concerns, and in response to domestic public opinion, for example.

Khris, is all of that really necessary?

  • Non-blocking walks? Yeah, that would add significant complexity. But if not actually needed (I assumed not), let's just not support it!
  • If I read repeatedly_execute_always() correctly, it's there to simulate the "player walks onto region" event for any character (and ensure you don't end up in an infinite loop, teleporting back and forth). However:
    • In the blocking case, you can just perform the teleportation in the function script, can't you?
    • To avoid the region-event triggering, just put the teleportation destination outside of the teleportation-triggering region going the other way
  • With blocking walk, you shouldn't need to keep track of what happens after the teleportation; just script it for each interaction.

Isn't that an argument in favor of a 'weapons industry driven conflict'? - I mean...if chaos and misery would have been prevented by ending the war quickly and early...then the only people not profiting are the weapons industries. So if we do a simple TV cop show analysis ('follow the money') of how western countries handle conflicts, then the most likely suspect is the ones making the most money from these (lasting) armed conflicts: the people selling weapons.

I wouldn't say so. In various Middle Eastern and North African conflicts involving jihadist groups in recent years, the "West" has taken (at different times) a number of quite different military approaches (combined with various diplomatic and economic efforts), from sending in ground troops, to bombing campaigns, to drone warfare, to enforcing no-fly zones, to a hands-off approach of providing support (non-lethal aid or weapons supplies) to forces deemed the most friendly, to in some cases minimal involvement. It's not obvious that any of these different strategies have had a notably better outcome than the others, or would have worked better in other situations.

I think that points to the explanation that these are devilishly difficult problems. Not only would it be almost impossible for an outright malevolent weapons industry to know which policies to promote to prolong the conflicts, it also seems unnecessary given that the violence seems to continue almost regardless. I think it's more reasonable to say that politicians and military leaders are forced to decide among an array of bad options in a situation with a huge amount of uncertainty, under very tough constraints (budgets, domestic politics and public opinion, prior history, UN diplomacy, a focus on other conflicts – e.g. the war in Ukraine, touchy relationships with various nations: Russia, Iran, Israel, Saudi Arabia...), which vary in each case.

I certainly won't try to defend all the choices that have been made, many of which have no doubt been short-sighted, cynical and/or miscalculated, but I think it's most reasonable to accept that the primary motivations for the interventions have been to stop jihadist groups from coming to power and potentially pose a threat against the West (or destabilize the region even more) and to try to achieve some degree of peace. After all, US and European leaders would have to be pretty dumb to think war in the Middle East is in their own national interest, given recent (and really all historical) experiences.

Perhaps it is foolish to think you can impose peace with bombs or drones or mercenaries, but I think it's also foolish to think that fanatical thugs slaughtering their way across half the world will be defeated without any armed fighting, just by... prayers? flowers? schools? Facebook posts? financial regulations? The alternative to military intervention is not peace, it's leaving the fighting to others (Putin, Assad, El-Sisi...) who won't be any more humane about it, and leaving civilians to die. Maybe that is better in the long run when we don't really have a solution – I honestly don't know – but let's be honest about the tradeoffs.

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