Thursday, July 28, 2005

State of Play

With a particularly masculine-looking Pierconium/Borogravia-Moldavi just re-positioned in the Pacific as the Minister of Justice, I thought it was time for a little update. First thing is first though, I have a few interviews scheduled for the next few topics, to lead off with before opening to wider discussion - the first will be with Pacifican Senator Mammothistan, formerly New People of the Atlantic Alliance. Watch out for that.

Before I get started though, a bit of a shout out to Anti-Pharisaism for this post which made me laugh. Along with the Project Evil awards that I proposed for the RLA (read: ASE extending its deadly dominion at the expensive of Dobbyniania's Sex Appeal, which was admittedly negligible in the first place) it is nice to see not everyone takes everything so seriously. I am a self confessed member of the Spelling Police and I make no apology for it.

Down to business.

The 2005 Defender Summit kicked off with much aplomb; the RLA allowed The Proletariat Coalition and Allied States of EuroIslanders to send individual regional delegations, after the manner of the ADN. USK did not attend because The Mighty Pump has, if I recall correctly, gone on holidays and the other members of the RLA will be reporting back to the Central Soviet in any case. In the ASE Assembly, I proposed Dalimbar and Xha'dam as ASE reps and this was accepted, with my own name being added at the last minute when Xha'dam clarified that we could have a maximum of three representatives.

It remains to be seen what can be achieved by such a summit and annoyingly, nothing can be removed from that Summit forum, according to the host-written forum guidelines. I feel able to share one of the first comments I made regarding Defender Unity; I re-post this so that other defenders can read it and agree or disagree as is their wont.

As for 'moving the story on' a bit, I keep hearing how defenders aren't unified. Strangely the only times I've heard this are when people are criticising the political approaches and opinions of another defender organisation. On the battlefield, defenders are motivated, active and share information regularly.

Speaking as Commander of the RLAF, and I am sure Xha'dam my deputy will back me up on this when he arrives, we have never had trouble working with Equilism, The West Pacific, Renegade Islands Alliance, independent defenders who have no organisation, Pacific Defenders, EAA, Abyss, Ireland, North Pacific and a range of others.

Regarding Intelligence sharing, the running of agents requires time and effort and information is not lightly shared except with those we trust. The RLA shares IP addresses of invaders regularly - most recently with the Allied Union of Nations and with England, so far as I am aware (I am not the Director of RLA Intelligence). Information that comes from intelligence sources (insofar as defending is concerned) is put to good use. Usually it is passed along to the military and acted on, in which case it reaches many defender organisations via contact through messenger or AIM.

I have yet to see anything to convince me that defenders are divided. Within the confines of NationStates, there are people the politics of which I despise, there are people whom I cannot get along with due to personality clashes and there are those who do not trust me an inch in many respects. That said, I have in the past made requests to those players and have been asked to help out those players at update time.

If we're here to discuss how we can make defending better then we need to leave our political opinions at the door. Military commanders should be here to talk technique and the various intelligence directors should be here to discuss increasing manpower invested in penetrating the hell out of any group that steps over the line between peaceable and raider. That is the only thing which will move the story on, in my opinion."

Elsewhere in NationStates, the usual summer lull has been setting in with a few exceptions. The neutral regions are quiet though their governments are remaining active - an encouraging sign. Certain regions, which shall remain unnamed, are even looking into the founding of a completely new defender organisation, following the strict guidelines which the Emergency Auxilliary Army wrote and abided by. Given the change of tactics by raider groups such as The Jolly Roger to the use of IM programmes (rather than forums) immediately prior to update, the increasing readiness of new independent regions to fill any space in defender ranks left by the decline of certain older regions is a welcome addition to the defender arsenal.

Politically, the RLA has been as vibrant as ever. Issues such as term limits for executive positions, a full time diplomatic staff and several constitutional amendments relating to citizenship, plus an enquiry into the continued existence of the Executive Commitee have occupied the imagination and energy of all the most active members and much valuable progress has been made. In military and intelligence fields, the RLA is still fielding a lot of soldiers and a lot of agents.

With the regretable decline of the most esteemed allies of the RLA, the EAA, the ASE will soon be opening negotiations with Peaceian (a region which withdrew from the EAA to strengthen their own core of members) and with our good friend Chin-Chillas.

For once I wish I had something bad to report - it's always more juicy than constant positive affirmation. Things are going well in each of the feeder regions, in all of the best known democracies of NS and in the unaffiliated world, most are little troubled by the rumours of increasing invader activity. A few Nazis have been stirred into activity probably by the RKKA poking them with a stick to get a response, though it is nothing the RLA and her allies (soon, we hope, to include The West Pacific) can't handle. A quiet few weeks in NS it has been. I doubt it will last.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Alas for Hellas

The Jolly Roger raider group have acknowledged that the United Cyprus Front was in fact a convenient cloak of opportunity for their invasion and occupation of Greece; the World Factbook Entry of Greece now declaims the real identity of the army that swept into Greece and occupied the delegate spot, ousting and ejecting Nikolaos the Great who was relatively inactive while Greek President Karpathos was himself holidaying.

Pacific forces and RLA forces co-operated on the morning after the invasion in an effort to steal a quick march on the invaders but were repelled by an active delegate. Co-operation efforts continue and RLA Intelligence two days ago noted the intervention of fascists in the invasion, when they moved into support the invader delegate, Pistachio Ice Cream.

With Union Representatives discussing the disestablishment of the Union of Sovereigns and the Pacific Militia taking what might be its first tentative steps onto the world stage as a defender force, it is to be hoped that such hardship as now exists in the PRP ally Greece will educate the Pacificans as to the need for an inter-regional defender force bringing in all non-aligned regions as well as the behemoth armies of the RLA, the ADN and so on.

Of course when I say defender I mean preventing regions like Greece from falling under the boot of invaders, preservation of regional sovereignty and nothing else, before some wily member of the Pacific turns up to remind me of their general opinion on the ADN specifically. Alas for the Hellenic natives.

Despite the warnings of Karpathos and his threat to impeach Nik if he asked for ADN help, the ADN still have a liberation thread in the AIA, though it is unknown if or when the ADN itself will begin a liberation effort. The stiff demands of the ADN upon the request for help by Nikolaos was just another milestone on the rocky relationship between Greece and the Alliance Defense Network.

As an interesting addendum, the supposedly defender region Aurora has been attempting to stir up trouble in the defender community by starting rumours in different parts of NationStates that the invasion of Greece was ordered by Unistrut. I will watch with interest to see if these claims can be proven for they are serious, regardless of the acceptance by the Jolly Roger of responsibility for the raid.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Mars, the Bringer of War

I've always been a fan of classical music and last weekend I attended a summer concert by the City of Belfast Youth Orchestra. The pieces played varied in quality according to personal preference however they did play Mars the Bringer of War by Gustav Holst. If ever there was a piece to get the blood pumping it is that one. I enjoyed it immensely. As with all things that I enjoy immensely, I tend to combine it with other things that I enjoy (for example, Ancient History and Marxism or Debating and Hearing the Sound of my own Voice). In this case, that means NationStates.

Mars was written some months before the outbreak of war in 1914 and has often been associated by later commentaries with the horrors of mechanised warfare that unfolded during World War 1. To compare NationStates with the realities of war seems hollow - but that is what our imaginations do for us when we play this game. Control of a nation means considering war, peace, alliances, diplomacy, idealism vs pragmatism and so on. Accompanying all developments in the NS world there are in miniature the same sort of thing as there is in the lead up to a real world war; jingo-using lying leaders, hubris of the highest order, battles, victory speeches, epic confrontations between ideals and personalities. It leads me to consider what people would think of music as part of NationStates.

I am no musician but I know a little. Mars begins softly with a timpani on violin, cello and double bass, gradually adding woodwind, drums and brass, particularly french horn. The introduction strikes me as comparable to the everyday struggles of NationStates - powerbrokers and their friends working away in their own alliances, quietly building in power as the music builds in volume. The blasting french horns at the end of each series of bars and the renewed force of the timpani brings on images of the clash of world powers as tension builds.

Sweeping strings follow this, interspersed with french horns heralding the marshalling of forces and the string timpani is reintroduced for brass, building to a booming close with drums and deep brass. The following part of the music, the slithering of strings and occasional horns indicates an event in the making that the world has been warned of but little suspects is about to be unleashed. The crescendo slowly builds to sweeping strings once more and then booms back into the timpani with supreme vigour and all instruments pounding to the 5/4 time together as armies march, nations upon nation moving to fight. In my mind the Red Banner is foremost as allies gather under the rising strings and the strident tones of the horns.

The close of the piece is indicated by rolling drums, forces spent, the fallen littering the field, the timpani returns, a reminiscence of dark times before the final breath of the drums ends the battle that was enjoined. Listen to the piece. Different people will apply different visions from mine to different pieces to which they associate their deeds in NationStates I am sure - though I am not at all certain how far this holds true for all players. As with the music, the quality of the game depends on how loud you like it turned up, how much of your own vision is invested in it.

This has been a more thoughtful piece. Comments are welcome.