tdb recommends – Three Wise Men Blog http://threewisemenblog.com/ Tue, 15 Mar 2022 08:35:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.9.3 https://threewisemenblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/3.png tdb recommends – Three Wise Men Blog http://threewisemenblog.com/ 32 32 Tribute to Simon Bridges https://threewisemenblog.com/tribute-to-simon-bridges/ Tue, 15 Mar 2022 08:27:43 +0000 https://threewisemenblog.com/tribute-to-simon-bridges/ Simon tripping Chippy on Jacinda’s first day of Parliament News that Simon Bridges is stepping down is a big loss for National and a bigger loss for New Zealand politics. In another life, I think Simon Bridges would have been an actor. He has a natural talent for playing and we saw it on the […]]]>

Simon tripping Chippy on Jacinda’s first day of Parliament

News that Simon Bridges is stepping down is a big loss for National and a bigger loss for New Zealand politics.

In another life, I think Simon Bridges would have been an actor.

He has a natural talent for playing and we saw it on the first day of Jacinda’s first term in government when Simon pretended to count the first Labour, Green and New Zealand MPs into the House and claimed they weren’t. didn’t have the numbers to elect Trevor Mallard. as president.

By lying between his teeth, Simon managed to get vast concessions from Hipkins on the very floor of Parliament, which gave National a huge number of select committees they were not going to get.

He also showed his talent for performance when he held the nation’s attention hostage by drip-feeding the Treasury website hack for a week and humiliating Grant Robertson in the process.

He summed up the aspiration the National Party claims to represent and he had a better chance of winning back the middle Nu Zilind vote than Judith or Muller ever could.

The way Judith smeared him and tried to use a Me Too harpoon to damage his reputation was fucking shameful and a reminder of how carcinogenic she was.

TDB recommends NewzEngine.com

His book was a surprisingly tender and intellectual reflection on masculinity in New Zealand that deserved far more attention than it received.

I disagreed with much of Simon’s politics but I respected his intelligence and humor. New Zealand politics will be less good without him, but I sincerely believe he will be amazing in whatever he does next.

A tribute to Simon Bridges.

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GUEST BLOG: Ben Morgan: Ukraine – New developments in Putin’s plan https://threewisemenblog.com/guest-blog-ben-morgan-ukraine-new-developments-in-putins-plan/ Sat, 12 Mar 2022 10:25:02 +0000 https://threewisemenblog.com/guest-blog-ben-morgan-ukraine-new-developments-in-putins-plan/ Over the past 72 hours there have been reports of minor but significant Russian activity signaling potential Russian plans. This week’s negotiations in Turkey have stalled and produced no significant breakthrough towards a peace agreement. Over the past few days, we have also witnessed a Ukrainian propaganda campaign as videos of successful attacks on Russian […]]]>

Over the past 72 hours there have been reports of minor but significant Russian activity signaling potential Russian plans. This week’s negotiations in Turkey have stalled and produced no significant breakthrough towards a peace agreement.

Over the past few days, we have also witnessed a Ukrainian propaganda campaign as videos of successful attacks on Russian forces are released along with announcements that Russian commanders have been killed. The Russian bombing of a hospital has grabbed headlines around the world, and Western audiences gleefully devour images of captured Russian soldiers illegally parading at press conferences. The Ukrainians project an image of strength and determination, winning the propaganda war in the west, and possibly in Russia too. This “information warfare” operation is obviously timed to coincide with and influence the peace negotiations.

The Russians have retaliated with threats, the publication of information that Ukraine is developing chemical weapons is an obvious pretext for escalation and although “called” in fact, the fact that the Russians are constructing such a pretext must be interpreted as a threat. It’s not a threat to NATO, it’s a threat to Ukrainian negotiators.

Today, the major media report the dispersal of the column of Russian vehicles massed north of Kiev. Unfortunately, these reports are usually not accompanied by analysis, so we will start today by providing an analysis of this movement. Two tactical reasons can explain the dispersion of this column.

The first being that the Russians are ready to advance on Kiev. That the area north of Kiev is secure and that the logistics bases, field hospitals and ammunition depots necessary for an assault on the city are operational. Therefore, the column of supply trucks can move the goods they carry to those places ready to support the assault. Recent reports indicate that approximately 18-20 battalion battlegroups are in this area. A strength of around 15-20,000, so still not big enough for the task. However, there are recent examples of Russian operations in Syria and Chechnya that provide insight into possible tactics.

In these countries, Russia used its enormous artillery arm to simply demolish the cities by sending infantry into the urban areas only after the buildings had been flattened and the defenders neutralized. Moreover, doctrinally the Soviets (Russia’s predecessors) saw the potential for using poison gas in urban areas as it kills defenders but leaves buildings and infrastructure intact. Bombing a city into oblivion destroys the city’s drainage system. Being on a Kiev river is likely to flood easily if heavily bombarded, slowing movement and creating an unhealthy environment for occupying forces. The cold calculation of military planning is sometimes very disturbing, and it is highly unlikely that chemical weapons would be used in this way due to the condemnation it would bring, but must be considered in light of recent Russian comments.

Simply put, although the Russians have the capability to besiege with a relatively small number of troops, if they are prepared for the international condemnation such methods would bring.

Yesterday there was another series of precision attacks across Ukraine using cruise missiles and long-range rockets. This is likely a prelude to an operation, with these strikes aimed at destroying more Ukrainian aircraft and command, communications and control infrastructure. An attack of this nature is a classic indicator of an offensive. However, it could also be a deception.

TDB recommends NewzEngine.com

The encirclement of the western side of Kyiv is not yet complete, the towns of Obukhiv, Fastiv and the city of Makariv to the south and west of Kyiv are still disputed. However, their capture may not be necessary to prevent reinforcements and supplies from reaching Kiev, and there will likely be considerable pressure on Russian commanders to take Kiev.

The second reason for the column’s dispersal could be that the Ukrainians forced it to disperse. That their counterattacks are effective and force the Russian commanders to leave the roads and find more easily defended locations. If this assumption is correct, the rocket and long-range cruise missile attacks are a ruse designed to distract Kiev.

At this point, on a balance of probabilities, it is highly likely that the Russians north of Kiev will move to their positions for the assault. However, it is too early to rule out the possibility of a Russian withdrawal or dispersal to avoid Ukrainian counterattacks. It is difficult to judge the situation, Ukraine’s dominance in the information war means that we have to be skeptical and careful in analyzing the information. So don’t expect to see the Russians withdraw, rather expect to see more shelling of Kiev, more fighting to the south and west, and perhaps an intense artillery assault.

But will Russia engage in the assault on Kiev? It’s still uncertain and we have to remember to keep looking at the big picture, not where Putin wants us to look.

The recent development that I believe is most significant are the Russian attacks on the southern towns of Mylolaiv and Voznesens. Previously, it was planned that after capturing Kherson, the Russians would either push west towards Odessa or north along the Dnieper. (See – Kherson falls may be a game changer) and since then we have been watching that front, looking for an indication of Putin’s strategic plan. Yesterday the Russians provided this information.

Mylolaiv and Voznesens both lie on the Bug River, a large river that runs parallel to the Dnieper and which must be crossed to attack Odessa, the largest Ukrainian city on the Black Sea, a port and a major cultural center. Mylolaiv is about 50 km west of Kherson, and Voznesens about 140 km north and west of the same city. We have already discussed the importance of cities and their bridges for an advancing army. Attacking these cities, rather than heading north is an indicator of Russian plans.

It is unlikely that the Russians would have the combat power to push north towards Kiev on the Dnieper and simultaneously push west towards Odessa.

Capturing Odessa would be a significant victory, it would be the western part of a “Crimean Corridor” cutting Ukraine off from the Black Sea, potentially linking pro-Russian Tranistria, ensuring safe Russian access to the Black Sea and providing a stamp for Crimea. Putin needs a victory to get out of the war. Kiev is a Pyrrhic victory. Odessa is a real victory, ensuring ice-free access to the sea has been a Russian strategic goal since the reign of Peter the Great.

Time is not on Putin’s side; Russia’s economy is only slightly larger than Australia’s, so it does not have the economic reserves to continue to struggle under the impact of international sanctions. Capturing a “Crimean Corridor” might be possible, especially if the strategic center of NATO and the world is Kyiv. Although Kyiv was the original target, perhaps Russia’s focus is changing and the reported operations around Kyiv are a deception. Recall that Putin’s most recent territorial claims concerned only the security of the Black Sea; recognition of Crimea as Russian, and of Donetsk and Luhansk as independent states.

So at the end of D+15 let’s look at our predictions:

  • The Russians begin to maneuver strategically and tactically. A westward push towards Odessa and activity around Kiev are both interesting. Elsewhere, they continue to contest parts of the country, but are not making significant progress. The coming weeks will be a test for the Russian military, either it will develop offensive operations or it will collapse. However, don’t expect an assault on Kiev soon, rather expect artillery and shelling, but a large ground attack is unlikely.
  • Expect more activity in the south, which will likely go unreported, drowned out by artillery and shelling elsewhere. Putin will keep the pressure on Kyiv, likely punishing the city and keeping media attention on this area as he moves west into the south. Remember that Putin is well educated in the art of maskirovka, strategic deception.
  • Tactically, the Russians are in a precarious position. Open-source intelligence websites actively identify and verify photos of damaged Russian and Ukrainian vehicles, and the numbers don’t look good for Russia. Moreover, Ukraine is winning the information war and although press conferences with Russian soldiers violate the laws of armed conflict, they will have an effect on faltering Russian morality. It will be impossible for Russian officers to prevent their men from seeing their sighted, unbeaten and well-treated-looking compatriots speaking out on social media. It is a powerful weapon and we will see more and more of it as more and more Russians surrender or desert, contributing to the attrition of the invasion force. This contributes to the prediction that while there will be a lot of artillery and noise around Kyiv, the real action will be in the south as it offers the best conditions for a quick “victory”.

In summary, the situation is beginning to change, as expected, the Russians are looking for options and may have found one in the south. The negotiations did not lead to a ceasefire and I think the Russians are maintaining a stressed army in the north, while they are developing an offensive in the south. Although there is a lot of noise around Kyiv, don’t forget to look south in the next few days.

Ben Morgan is a weary Gen Xer with an interest in international politics. He’s TDB’s military analyst.


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BREAKING: TVNZ Poll – National Beats Labor https://threewisemenblog.com/breaking-tvnz-poll-national-beats-labor/ Thu, 10 Mar 2022 17:25:30 +0000 https://threewisemenblog.com/breaking-tvnz-poll-national-beats-labor/ For the first time, the National beat Labor in a major poll. NATIONAL: 39% WORK: 37% GREENS: 9% ACT: 8% Maori Party: 2% This is a shock wave from a poll. As TDB pointed out at the time, more than 50% of the protesters on the lawns of Parliament voted Green/Labour and came from rural […]]]>

For the first time, the National beat Labor in a major poll.

NATIONAL: 39%

WORK: 37%

GREENS: 9%

ACT: 8%

Maori Party: 2%

This is a shock wave from a poll.

As TDB pointed out at the time, more than 50% of the protesters on the lawns of Parliament voted Green/Labour and came from rural and provincial electorates.

TDB recommends NewzEngine.com

Labor of course lost that vote.

Labour’s failure to do anything meaningful about the cost of living crisis is pushing those who voted Labor hoping for transformative change straight into the arms of the National.

I think the way highly identifiable Labor and Green proxies on social media branded everyone who protested as “Nazis” probably didn’t help.

The Woke’s alienating devotion to attacking anyone who disagrees with them is also a problem.

It’s hard to pretend to care about poor brunettes while shouting NAZI at them.

The real danger for Labor now is that they cannot win without the Maori party and with the current level of criticism aimed at anything to do with co-governance, the ease with which ACT and National can paint a Labour/Green government /maori party is making the election almost unwinnable for the left now.

The political left has spent too much time on identity-based signals of political virtue and not enough time making people’s lives easier.

We could have done more to feed the kids, make public transport free, welfare, housing and supermarket duopolies, but we decided to do a whole lot of woke bullshit instead.

As economic anxiety mounts for the working classes in New Zealand, watch the response from the New Zealand political left.

  • Gerrymander sexual assault laws so that any man accused of rape is convicted.
  • Declaration of emergency on climate change that does nothing.
  • Strangle free speech with a blasphemy law and criminalize the misuse of pronouns.
  • End gay conversion therapy that proponents can’t quantify.
  • Theory of critical racism in 0range Tamariki.

For the 200,000 children living in poverty, 25,000 on emergency housing waiting lists and the generations excluded from home ownership, the response from the New Zealand left is a wakeful commotion.

Rather than focusing on jobs, homes, and poverty (because they’re tough), we get signals of virtue from the middle class.

The right cannot believe their luck.

You know things are bad when Chris Luxon, who owns 7 properties, can make Jacinda seem out of touch when it comes to a cost of living crisis.

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GUEST BLOG: Ben Morgan: Ukraine – I may have been wrong… Putin is negotiating? https://threewisemenblog.com/guest-blog-ben-morgan-ukraine-i-may-have-been-wrong-putin-is-negotiating/ Tue, 08 Mar 2022 11:13:27 +0000 https://threewisemenblog.com/guest-blog-ben-morgan-ukraine-i-may-have-been-wrong-putin-is-negotiating/ Yesterday I predicted that the ground war would slow down. NATO remains firm, ruling out any commitment to intervention, thus giving the Russians time to slowly develop their operations, strangle Kiev and slowly advance towards their objectives. Meanwhile, the recent ‘Cry Havoc’ from both sides unleashed the ‘dogs of war’ as western volunteers began arriving […]]]>

Yesterday I predicted that the ground war would slow down. NATO remains firm, ruling out any commitment to intervention, thus giving the Russians time to slowly develop their operations, strangle Kiev and slowly advance towards their objectives.

Meanwhile, the recent ‘Cry Havoc’ from both sides unleashed the ‘dogs of war’ as western volunteers began arriving in Ukraine and battle-hardened Syrians and Chechens were recruited by the Russians. . The war began to develop the potential to descend into medieval savagery as tough young men traveled there to fight. Mercenaries and volunteers are always bad news. Professional soldiers are bound by conventions and laws, they are led by officers trained in military law. No matter the “turn”, mercenaries and volunteers are really just dangerous young men looking for an opportunity for excitement and without legal or moral restraints, so their employment historically ends in great suffering. .

The injection of irregular foreign troops into the mix by Russia is also an indication that either; Russia either lacks manpower or uses the idea of ​​bloodthirsty mercenaries descending on Ukrainian cities to scare their opposition. An information operation like this is entirely plausible, it could be that both inferences are true. This makes Putin’s recently released interpretation of negotiating points more interesting.

This morning (New Zealand time), Putin’s demands for a withdrawal and a ceasefire were published, and they shocked me. Recognition of Crimea as Russian, and Donetsk and Luhansk as independent states and Ukrainian neutrality. Moreover, the Russians declared that they were ready to immediately stop the military action if these conditions were met.

Yesterday I said that the trading table is now a key area of ​​operations. That the Russians are overworked and exhausted, so they will have to focus on getting out of the war while saving as much face as possible. Putin’s bargaining stance shocked me as this seems like a very favorable offer. If Ukraine agrees, it essentially reverts to the pre-invasion status quo. Although Ukraine must legitimize the disputed areas of Crimea, Donetsk and Lugansk, they were in Russian hands before the war anyway. He must remain neutral, but being neutral does not necessarily mean disarmed.

Why are the Russians making this offer? Putin, is difficult to understand. Is he a manipulative and megalomaniacal psychopath ready to engage in nuclear war? Or is he a master strategist? The problem is that we just don’t know, so we have to interpret the situation based on facts or logical inferences that can be made from those facts.

At this point it is a fact that the ground war is not progressing significantly, Kiev is still under pressure but has not come under deliberate and sustained attack. The western envelopment of the city is still disputed. Obukhiv, a key indicator of Russian success, some 35 kilometers south of Kiev and near the Dnieper has still not been captured. If the Russians hold this city, they will probably complete the encirclement on the western side of Kiev.

TDB recommends NewzEngine.com

In the south the fighting continues, the Russians have made no significant advances in the past two days, although it appears they are still concentrating on the push north along the Dnieper. The same is true in the east around Kharkov. Reports of Russian logistical failures continue to pile up and come from increasingly credible analysts.

Another logistical issue that people outside the military may find interesting is “life tracking”. A BMP tank or infantry fighting vehicle is a finely tuned machine, it requires constant maintenance and maintenance, especially the tracks. The metal tracks on which these vehicles run stretch and wear out quickly. On average, a track is about 500 kilometers long, which is why tanks normally move from transporters or trains when not fighting or exercising. The replacement caterpillar is expensive, bulky and heavy. By doing some quick math, we can see that there are probably a lot of Russian vehicles that need a new track right now. If the Russian army has logistical problems, then this week they are likely to get worse.

Maybe Putin’s generals were honest, sat down with him, and pointed out the difficulty of continuing to pursue the war. A ceasefire would provide respite and an opportunity to reorganize, repair and re-equip units. This does not mean the end of Russia’s attempts to absorb Ukraine, but perhaps maskirovka, a strategic disappointment that would allow time to; planning, re-equipping, waging information warfare and undermining the Ukrainian government.

A team of generals may come up with a plan to lull NATO into a false sense of security by negotiating. Ukraine’s recognition of Crimea as Russian and independence of breakaway states offer ‘victory’; and we wait, let the West forget about Ukraine, undermine the Ukrainian government, maybe assassinate Zelensky, use our cyber warfare capability to elect a more receptive candidate. We can always invade again, but this time we’ll do it right.

Another option is that Putin’s offer is another kind of deception. It’s about lulling the West into a sense of security or creating a reasonable image so that if they use a tactical nuke, shock value is maximized. This shock is what would make the “escalation to de-escalation” strategy the most effective.

On the balance of probabilities, the first option is the most likely. The Russians know they face a long and difficult battle to conquer Ukraine. A battle that will quickly escalate into a failed state on the Russian border. Putin’s generals will not fail to point out the risk for Russia of Ukraine being at war. If Ukraine becomes a lawless war zone contested by Russians, Ukrainians, and a host of dangerous foreigners, it presents opportunities for other powers to wage a proxy war against regimes in Russia and Belarus. Ukraine’s security is the reason for this war, it makes no sense to let Ukraine descend into anarchy.

Negotiation seems like a sensible way for Russia to play for the long haul. No one wins a nuclear confrontation; However, I don’t think we can rule out this threat yet because we just don’t know enough about the Kremlin and about Putin.

So at the end of D+12 let’s look at our predictions:

  • Defining the Russian main effort remains difficult and in all likelihood at this stage of the campaign it is likely to be resupply and reorganization.
  • Don’t expect Russia to advance much in the next few days. With increasingly credible reports of logistical issues confirming early assessments of Russian capability, I believe that:
    • Kyiv remains a key objective, but the situation there is stable and should not change before the next round of negotiations.
    • Fighting in the south will remain relatively static and combat reports still point to a northward direction of advance rather than a westward shift towards Odessa.
  • The negotiating table is now the key battleground. It does not appear that the Russians can currently generate the combat power necessary to use the ground campaign to influence the negotiations. If the Russians had that capability, we would see it deployed. Instead, expect a few calm days before negotiations.

In summary, the past 24 hours seem to confirm early assessments of the Russian military’s capability. Putin’s statements this morning on peace demands are very difficult to gauge, but on the balance of probabilities it will likely be an attempt to extricate Russia from a damaging war and secure political gains for justify the action. The implications are very difficult to understand. Again, only time will tell.

Ben Morgan is a weary Gen Xer with an interest in international politics. He’s TDB’s military analyst.


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Biden’s speech against Putin’s revenge https://threewisemenblog.com/bidens-speech-against-putins-revenge/ Sun, 06 Mar 2022 17:40:19 +0000 https://threewisemenblog.com/bidens-speech-against-putins-revenge/ Matty has every right to look worried! I predicted that Putin would invade Ukraine. I argued that after the coup attempt in Kazakhstan earlier this year, Putin would decide that the West would never end its attempts to destabilize Russia and, with an eye to history and its own personal legacy at 70, would wage […]]]>

Matty has every right to look worried!

I predicted that Putin would invade Ukraine.

I argued that after the coup attempt in Kazakhstan earlier this year, Putin would decide that the West would never end its attempts to destabilize Russia and, with an eye to history and its own personal legacy at 70, would wage war with Ukraine to gain further ground for Mother Russia.

I thought he would try to gain a land bridge to the south and annex eastern Ukraine.

It made geopolitical sense.

What actually happened was much, much, much worse and much, much, much more dangerous.

He’s the sinister chess master at work, a madman trying to bring about a nuclear exchange.

Putin’s mentor, Alexander Dugin, advocated for the invasion of Ukraine…

The Russian intellectual Alexander Dugin is the main architect of neo-Russian imperialism called Eurasianism. In a series of lectures, articles and books, Dugin sought to “rehabilitate fascism in Russia”. He borrowed obscure political theories from the 19th and 20th centuries, adopted a sympathetic interpretation of Nazism that attempts to separate it from the Holocaust, and sought to thwart what he and many Russians see as a US-led conspiracy. to contain Russia. Dugin called for a “Russian Spring” and Ukraine’s domination of Europe.

TDB recommends NewzEngine.com

…those around Putin all believe in this grand tale of fate…

Emboldened by perceptions of the West’s terminal decline, no one in this group loses much sleep over the prospect of open confrontation with America and Europe. In fact, the core members of this group would all be among the primary beneficiaries of a deeper schism.

Consider Putin’s war cabinet, which is where most decision-making takes place. It consists of Nikolai Patrushev, the head of the Security Council; Alexander Bortnikov, the head of the FSB (the main successor agency to the KGB’s intelligence service); Sergei Naryshkin, the head of Russia’s foreign intelligence service; and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.

Their average age is 68 and they have a lot in common. The collapse of the Soviet Union, which Putin described as the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century, was the defining episode of their adult lives. Four out of five come from the KGB, three of whom, including the president himself, come from the ranks of counterintelligence. It is these hardened men, not polished diplomats like Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who lead the country’s foreign policy.

In recent years, members of this group have become very vocal. Patrushev and Naryshkin frequently give long interviews articulating their views on global developments and Russia’s international role. According to them, the American-led order is in deep crisis due to the failure of Western democracy and the internal conflicts stimulated by the promotion of tolerance, multiculturalism and respect for the rights of minorities.

… I think the cabal sees itself as part of the millennial Christian tradition and that this war is for the soul of Russia.

We do not appreciate the power, importance and motivation that Russian Orthodox Christianity plays in all of this.

In 988 AD, Vladimir the Great, from whom Putin takes his name, mass baptized 1,000 Russians on the Nee-Proh River in what became the founding spiritual moment of Russian Orthodox Christianity as Russia became Christian and leads to a cultural narrative structure that Moscow is the third Rome and was a homeland for Christianity.

What is not widely known is that Putin himself is a very staunch Russian Orthodox Christian and has used the Russian Orthodox Church as a huge control mechanism over the Russian people.

Putin has spent billions to rebuild churches destroyed by communism and uses his relationship with the church for political purposes. It was the Orthodox Church that first praised Putin for annexing Crimea, a region of great religious importance to the Church.

Recently, the Ukrainian branch of the Orthodox Church severed its ties with the Russian branch because it felt that Putin had too much influence over it.

If Moscow is the third Rome, Kiev is the second Jerusalem.

Putin considers himself part of a long line of Christian defenders of the true faith.

An angry new white Christianity is breaking out here with intense violence, and misreading Putin’s engines means we won’t be able to stop it.

If Putin does this for God and the soul of Mother Russia, the deaths are proof of faith, not failure!

The next stop will be Bosnia/Herzegovina…

As the world watches Ukraine, the possibility of disintegration looms in Bosnia

…in 2016, Putin started building a Doomsday bunker.

In 2017 he saw Dr Strangelove for the first time with director Oliver Stone.

Last year he completed his Doomsday Bunker and this week he was apparently there.

It seems strange that he threatens nuclear strikes and uses his Doomsday Bunker as soon as it becomes available.

The West must tread very carefully here.

Our interpretation of the slow response and the heavy losses Russia has suffered militarily and economically is that Putin miscalculated.

May be.

But he had all the other moving parts of that plan worked out years ago.

Why isn’t the Air Force joining in this attack?

Why weren’t the troops told where they were going or fighting.

Many members of the army are just children who don’t have much experience.

The main Russian army is still not engaged.

They didn’t use what we expected in terms of cyber warfare or space warfare.

What if all this horror was just background noise? The excuse for massively intensifying the use of a nuclear weapon on the battlefield?

What if this was just the beginning and he didn’t commit everything else because he’s waiting for the real conflict after using a nuke?

Putin is no petty bully, he is an angry God with the power to wipe out the planet and he exhibits a great deal of end-of-day paranoia in his very isolated social existence and growing group of people. more restricted.

What if Putin orders the Russian army to use a nuclear bomb on the battlefield? What if that was Putin’s real goal here? To show the West that it will bow to no deterrence and sow new chaos throughout the world order?

The scenes outside Ukraine of innocent people frightened by the trauma of war hurt.

Their resilience, their courage in the face of the Russian military, and their refusal to surrender redefined what toughness looks like.

Their leader, his spirit and his remarkable bravery have won hearts and minds around the world.

Fighting for them against someone who wants to escalate extreme violence must be tempered by the reality that would play into Putin’s hands.

Meanwhile, Joe Biden gave a mediocre speech.

Having more and more independent opinions in a mainstream media environment that mostly echo each other has become more important than ever, so if you value having an independent voice, please donate here.

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GUEST BLOG: Ian Powell – Wellington is now facing a public health emergency https://threewisemenblog.com/guest-blog-ian-powell-wellington-is-now-facing-a-public-health-emergency/ Tue, 22 Feb 2022 04:07:52 +0000 https://threewisemenblog.com/guest-blog-ian-powell-wellington-is-now-facing-a-public-health-emergency/ Much has been said about the growing debacle involving the occupation in and around the Parliament grounds in Wellington. I have already blogged a review in my previous Policy bytes Publish: Far-Right Rights, Responsibilities and Agendas. Much has changed since then. Abuse and intimidation (including threats of violence) have increased for residents, local workers and […]]]>

Much has been said about the growing debacle involving the occupation in and around the Parliament grounds in Wellington. I have already blogged a review in my previous Policy bytes Publish: Far-Right Rights, Responsibilities and Agendas.

Much has changed since then. Abuse and intimidation (including threats of violence) have increased for residents, local workers and bus drivers, parliamentary staff, journalists, mask wearers and others unfortunate enough to find themselves near. The far right has migrated to anti-vaccination activists like vultures to a carcass.

The occupation now extends further along Molesworth St and other nearby streets, as well as to Victoria University’s Pipitea campus (which has now been closed to students for security reasons).

Threats of injury and death against politicians, journalists and others continue with the added dimension of a call for a military coup. It is not an insurrection but there is no doubt that the far right, which to date has the greatest influence on the direction of the occupation and its tactics, would like this to be the result.

And the “dispossessed”?

There has also been an exaggerated narrative suggesting that the “dispossessed” are leading the occupation. There are certainly many people in New Zealand living in dire circumstances due to both cruel government decisions and neglect. Stripped of secure employment and other basics, they have good reason to feel marginalized and disenfranchised (“declassified”, in other words).

However, while the ‘dispossessed’ are part of the occupiers, they are not the drivers and their involvement is overstated (certainly as far as leadership is concerned). That was definitely my experience going through the busy day one.

Also, the ‘dispossessed’ tend not to own Utilities, SUV’s and Motorhomes blocking Molesworth St, unless I’ve misunderstood what the word means. The presence of a millionaire’s partner doesn’t help this narrative either.

TDB recommends NewzEngine.com

Voice of the Dispossessed (Millionaire’s Partner)!!!

Good reads

There is more to say, but the situation is well described in two published articles. I don’t necessarily agree with all of their comments, but on the whole they are correct. The first is by Thing journalist Charlie Mitchell (February 18): Police inability to understand.

The second article is Writing political editor Jo Moir February 19): Behind the political maneuvers. Both articles are good reads.

Police leadership failure

What stands out is the failure of the police leadership (which does not reflect the basic police). Management was unprepared. Better preparation and a more strategic response earlier may well have made a huge difference. Initially, the convoy was described as a convoy of trucks. It clearly wasn’t (utes, SUVs and motorhomes instead).

But it was a clear indication of an intention to block roads, Molesworth St being both a major thoroughfare and running alongside Parliament. There were no plans to redirect these vehicles when the number was much smaller. They were simply left to block the street at will.

It was as if police leaders ignored what was already happening in Ottawa on their own television screens, including the involvement of the far right.

It also raises the question of what the security services were doing – the Government Communications Security Office and security intelligence services should have been well aware of the risk, including international connections from the United States, and advise the police accordingly.

I was amazed to learn that when the parliamentary security guards asked for the help of the police to remove the illegal tents on the ground when the numbers were very low, it was refused. No attempt was made to prevent the erection of tents, although this would have been increasingly difficult as the number increased. Then it got worse.

At least until about 3 p.m. this morning, the police leadership had, in fact, conceded defeat and given virtually free rein to the far-right-influenced leadership of the occupation. Worse than failing to protect the abused, intimidated and threatened public, the police leadership then downplayed the significance of this behavior although they now appear to have reversed their position.

The far right and those it influences were granted open access to the areas they had taken over. No wonder they feel emboldened and believe they beat the police. With some justification, they can consider that they had won and that the sky was their only limit.

It is extraordinary that a disunited and fractured far right can outsmart a police leadership that has a much larger disciplined and trained workforce.

The likes of far-right Kelvyn Alps foiled the police

remember the past

I still vividly remember witnessing police brutality over 40 years ago in 1981. It was the same street blocked by wealthy vehicles today (Molesworth). The violence was against peaceful anti-Springbok marchers.

I was around 8and row at the front of the step where the assault occurred. Throughout the eight-week tour, the police moved heaven and earth, including violence, to protect this racist tour.

It is surely no exaggeration to expect that the police will now move heaven and earth (without violence) to protect the public from the risk of Covid infection and worse, as well as intimidation and threats of physical harm ( and worse)!

Biggest danger: public health risk

But intimidation and threats of violence (and worse) are not the greatest danger to the public We now find ourselves with a worsening public health risk amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Its highly transmissible variant (Omicron) is out of control and spreading rapidly across New Zealand. It should soon invade our already overwhelmed public hospitals.

While Delta is more lethal (a higher probability of death for those infected), Omicron is potentially more devastating. Its transmissibility is so high that the previously successful elimination strategy (including containments) is rendered ineffective. We can only hope to mitigate rather than eliminate Omicron. Mitigation can take months.

We are already at an all-time high in hospitalizations. Hospitals will struggle to cope with Covid-19 patients alone. Many other patients in need of critical treatment, such as cancer and heart, will be missed or dangerously delayed. Worse still, the diagnosis could be too.

With its higher transmissibility and reliance on attenuation rather than elimination, it is possible that Omicron could cause more deaths than Delta.

State of health emergency

So where is this occupation in the form of the extreme right? The last thing New Zealand needs are virus spreaders. Large crowds without public health measures, such as social distancing and masks, are potential virus spreaders.

This is even more true when many or most are unvaccinated and in a very crowded environment. It is the unvaccinated who are already putting disproportionate pressure on hospitals. This will get worse as Omicron continues to crack down.

This particular occupation (unlike any other occupation we have known) is a huge virus spreader that reaches far beyond its participants; to those they encounter or threaten during and after the event. This is expert advice from leading epidemiologists and other medical specialists.

When the pandemic first hit New Zealand in March 2020, the government declared a state of emergency. It was the right decision. Declaring a state of emergency is an essential part of a country’s response arrangements. It allows the authorities and persons concerned to exercise extraordinary powers intended to provide an effective and rapid response.

The far right and those it influences have created a huge illegal spreader of viruses. This justifies the state of emergency as much as the arrival of Covid-19 did almost two years ago.

Currently, the government is caught between a rock and a hard place because of the strong, sensible tradition of not being involved in police operational decisions. But these are exceptional circumstances.

A state of emergency based on the current level of intimidation and threats in Wellington cannot be justified. But it could be on the basis of the threat to public health. This would enhance the ability of the police and other authorities to protect first and foremost the health (not to mention the personal safety) of the public in and around Parliament and beyond.

Encouraging the police initiative this morning to block the occupation (including preventing access) and protect workers and others on the streets is a smart step in the right direction.

This must be followed by the recovery of other occupied or threatened premises such as the university and the courts. The gradual and well-planned removal of vehicles blocking the roads should follow.

Then there should be a firm (but non-violent) gradual strategic withdrawal of the tents from the field. This will take time but should be helped by previous activities. The threat to public health should be the main driver of this direction.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s government should not be blamed for this debacle, but it must show leadership to address it

If the current situation is allowed to continue unabated (or even if reduced), the likelihood of affecting the health and well-being of the innocent will increase exponentially (including otherwise preventable deaths). This must be quickly reversed.

Otherwise, not only will the far right have won (it has already won enough) and the police will have failed, but the government will also have failed.

The responsibility for this debacle should not be attributed to the government given these exceptional circumstances. But it’s the bet to the right that counts.

Ian Powell was executive director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, the professional union representing senior doctors and dentists in New Zealand, for over 30 years until December 2019. He is now a health systems commentator , labor market and political living in the small river estuary community of Otaihanga (the place by the tide). First published on Political Bytes


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Reality and the Left – A Bitter Divorce https://threewisemenblog.com/reality-and-the-left-a-bitter-divorce/ Thu, 17 Feb 2022 03:35:18 +0000 https://threewisemenblog.com/reality-and-the-left-a-bitter-divorce/ WHERE IS THE REALITY amidst all these claims and counter-claims regarding the protest camp on the grounds of Parliament? In an excruciatingly postmodern political moment, reality seems to have vanished, leaving behind only a noisy collection of competing narratives. To make matters worse, the state itself, supposed to be the supreme arbiter of what is […]]]>

WHERE IS THE REALITY amidst all these claims and counter-claims regarding the protest camp on the grounds of Parliament? In an excruciatingly postmodern political moment, reality seems to have vanished, leaving behind only a noisy collection of competing narratives.

To make matters worse, the state itself, supposed to be the supreme arbiter of what is and is not politically real, refuses to do its job. Even though it is his sworn duty, Police Commissioner Andrew Coster has made it chillingly clear to the public that he has neither the will nor the means to assert state authority. The New Zealand Defense Force, meanwhile, are standing aside from the fray. Jacinda Ardern and Christopher Luxon, helpless to intervene, watch to no effect. The crisis is getting worse.

Ask yourself: what does it mean when tow truck drivers, asked to assist the police commissioner, refuse? At what point in the last decade did citizens begin to feel that they had no obligation to the society in which they live? That no one had the right to tell them what to do – not even the police? What is it if the people of Wellington, their neighbors, need their help?

It has been reported that at least one towie has openly declared his support for the protesters camped out on the grounds of Parliament. Completely understandable. The occupants do not accept that their government has the right to require their vaccination against Covid-19. Nor do they believe that they owe their fellow citizens any cooperation in the fight to limit the damage of the virus. This tow truck driver recognized kindred spirits when he saw them. Andrew Coster and the Wellingtonians could fuck off.

Not all towies were so screwed up. According to the media, some of them were simply scared. They said they were threatened with terrible reprisals if they allowed the police to use their trucks. Since these trucks bore the names and phone numbers of their owners, it is not difficult to understand the impact of such threats. If someone were to burn down the premises of a towing company, burn down their trucks, it would cost several livelihoods and ruin a business. Who wouldn’t think twice?

Such tactics are, however, remarkably effective. I remember reading about Jimmy Hoffa and the Teamsters’ bitter battles with trucking companies. The bosses could count on local politicians, local judges, local editors and local cops to defend them against the Hoffa strikers. The Syndicate was in hiding until Hoffa contacted the Mafia. It only took a few dozen burnt-out trucks for the bosses to understand the message. The Teamsters won their improved contract. But the spoon Hoffa brought to his dinner with the Devil wasn’t long enough. His beloved Teamsters Union now belonged to the Mafia.

Now you might think that people on the left of New Zealand politics would recognize the danger of delaying the occupation of Parliament as a laudable assertion of working class power. As if poverty and marginalization, frustration and anger, ignorance and gullibility were always and everywhere evidence of moral strength and progressive intention.

Karl Marx himself recognized the acute political danger inherent in what he called the lumpenproletariat. According to Marxism Encyclopediathis social formation is composed of the “excluded, degenerate and submerged elements” of industrial society:

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“This includes beggars, prostitutes, gangsters, racketeers, swindlers, petty criminals, tramps, the chronically unemployed or unemployable, those rejected by industry and all sorts of downgraded, degraded or degenerate elements. In times of prolonged crisis (depression), countless young people too, who do not find the opportunity to enter the social organism as producers, are pushed into this pariah limbo. Here demagogues and fascists of various tendencies find part of their mass base in times of struggle and social collapse, when the ranks of the lumpenproletariat are enormously swollen with ruined and downgraded elements from all strata of a society. decaying.

That our society is decaying can hardly be doubted. The events of the last ten days offer ample evidence of the seriousness of the weakening of New Zealand society by this decadence. A viable left, recognizing the weakness of the system and its acute vulnerability to those seeking help from “gangsters, racketeers, crooks, petty criminals” would not hesitate to identify the so-called “freedom convoy” as the party reactionary, quasi-fascist, company it has always been.

Alas, New Zealand no longer has a viable left. Identity politics taught an entire generation to accept the self-definitions of “oppressed groups” at face value. Exploring the real character of these groups and examining their relationship with the ruling class is discouraged. Even among leftists who still recognize the primacy of class politics, there is a pronounced reluctance to subject movements like the Freedom Convoy to any sort of rigorous class analysis.

For these leftists, it is enough that the occupants of Parliament are, or have been, members of the working class. These “revolutionaries” are so desperate for the slightest trace of revolutionary consciousness that they are willing to ignore the absence of anything remotely resembling a concrete program for the social and economic emancipation of the working class. The only agenda in evidence among the occupiers is one demanding the immediate cessation of all measures to minimize injury and suffering from Covid-19.

How the self-proclaimed “socialists” could confuse such a noxious potpourri of anti-social attitudes with anything remotely progressive is a mystery. It may be nothing more than the curious allure of the demimonde, coupled with the magnetic eccentricities of the bohemian temperament, which led these desperate socialists to confuse reactionaries with revolutionaries. Obviously, they forgot that Adolf Hitler himself was a lumpenproletarian. A specimen more “downgraded, degraded and degenerated” than history has yet provided!

It was the Italian socialist Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937) who captured the extraordinary fluidity of reality in times of acute social tension and political disintegration. Moments in history when ruling class hegemonic explanations have lost, or are beginning to lose, their power to allay the fears and apprehensions of subordinate classes. In these times – and we are living them now – people are desperately looking for new, more compelling narratives about the nature of reality.

Not all of these stories speak to the best of human nature. It’s not always easy to distinguish the lies of charlatans and demagogues from genuine groundbreaking truths, especially in the age of social media algorithms. Leftists are often surprised to learn that Mussolini was a socialist before becoming a fascist.

Gramsci expressed it well when he wrote: “The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum appear a great variety of morbid symptoms.

Or, more succinctly: “Now is the time for monsters.”


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Waatea News column: A demonstration in Parliament without mana https://threewisemenblog.com/waatea-news-column-a-demonstration-in-parliament-without-mana/ Wed, 16 Feb 2022 01:37:15 +0000 https://threewisemenblog.com/waatea-news-column-a-demonstration-in-parliament-without-mana/ Threats of violence and abuse made by protesters in Parliament are not acceptable. While everyone has the right to protest in a liberal progressive democracy, threatening and abusing people is illegal and does not advance your case in a democracy. Protesters attempting to break through police lines on Wednesday last week to disrupt Parliament are […]]]>

Threats of violence and abuse made by protesters in Parliament are not acceptable.

While everyone has the right to protest in a liberal progressive democracy, threatening and abusing people is illegal and does not advance your case in a democracy.

Protesters attempting to break through police lines on Wednesday last week to disrupt Parliament are unacceptable to all citizens of this democracy.

That said, these angry and frightened protesters have a right to protest, the yoke of mandates has hit this group the hardest and they have every right in a democracy to express their pain directly to the politicians who passed these rules.

I disagree with these protesters that the government’s response to Covid has been the big threat to civil rights they claim. We had to embark on these restrictions to protect everyone, and we collectively want this pandemic to be over so these sanctions can be lifted because none of us want to see our fellow Kiwis suffer unnecessarily.

What was most alarming were the childish pranks by the Speaker of the House whose decision to clean up the lawn on Thursday caused a huge backlash that saw the protest grow to 5 times its original size.

Spraying water and playing loud music are a spoiled brat’s tactic, not that of the Speaker of the House.

Mallard’s antics made a serious situation worse.

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We urgently need MPs with mana to come down and hear protesters’ concerns about the deal that protesters go home.

We urgently need to defuse this anger so that there is no longer any recourse to the police.

We need the adults to come back and take care of this.

First published on Waatea News.


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Activate the anti-vaxxers – now. https://threewisemenblog.com/activate-the-anti-vaxxers-now/ Thu, 10 Feb 2022 21:48:42 +0000 https://threewisemenblog.com/activate-the-anti-vaxxers-now/ IT IS HARD to understand the police tactics on display today (02/10/22) outside Parliament. What is the goal of police commanders? To empty the parliamentary precinct of protesters, remove their tents and Portaloos, tow the cars and trucks that block the streets of central Wellington? Or are the tactics deployed more concerned with the “look” […]]]>

IT IS HARD to understand the police tactics on display today (02/10/22) outside Parliament. What is the goal of police commanders? To empty the parliamentary precinct of protesters, remove their tents and Portaloos, tow the cars and trucks that block the streets of central Wellington? Or are the tactics deployed more concerned with the “look” of the operation. Is the purpose to show New Zealand how vastly different our modern police force is from the baton-wielding riot squads of forty years ago?

If that was the “look” they were going for, then they certainly achieved their goal.

Police commanders in other jurisdictions, watching live streams from New Zealand on their computers, must have shaken their heads in disbelief. Police officers in shirt sleeves, unhelmeted, insufficiently masked facing a crowd of unvaccinated citizens and deployed in insufficient numbers to effectively enforce the law, faced a crowd of several hundred defiant people.

The tactic, described by Wellington District Commander Corrie Parnell as a “graduated response”, appeared to involve regularly pushing protesters back and out of Parliament and into the streets. This had to be done without the use of any of the crowd control equipment available to officers overseas. There were to be no shields, no pepper spray, no tasers, no truncheons, no tear gas, no rubber bullets. Arrests were permitted, but since it took at least two – usually four – police officers to subdue each protester, handcuff them and take them away, it soon became apparent that the process was unlikely to reduce the size of the crowd quickly. Indeed, the hours passed, and the number of demonstrators remained fairly constant.

This inability of the police to make a serious impression of the size or intentions of the crowd, combined with public awareness of the risk of infection posed to front-line officers, very quickly changed the “look” of Operation dramatically police.

Far from being impressed by the police restraint, those watching the live streams began to feel angry and frustrated by the utter ineffectiveness of the tactics employed. Police commanders seemed paralyzed. Unable to withdraw, but refusing to deploy the personnel or crowd control measures necessary to end the demonstration. All the public saw was a crowd of anti-vaxxers successfully challenging a New Zealand police force that couldn’t or wouldn’t force them to disperse. The message conveyed was not that of a sober and compassionate police force, but effective. Everything the New Zealand public saw was weak.

A state can be defined as a set of institutions having a monopoly on the exercise of political control – a monopoly made possible by its exclusive access to the means of organized violence. No state can afford to give its citizens the impression that it has neither the means nor the will to use violence against those who challenge it. Why? Because those who turn to the state’s “body of gunmen” for protection against disorganizedviolence will become alarmed. And those who would seize the authority of the state for their own ends will grow bolder. That is why, like it or not, the state has no choice but to vigorously defend itself when challenged.

Paradoxically, the greater the vigor with which challenges to state authority are addressed in their first manifestations, the less likely it is that serious, possibly deadly, force will be required to resolve them.

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The Canadian model of the “Freedom Convoy” which is currently challenging the New Zealand state is a good example. By refusing to immediately evict truckers from downtown Ottawa, using overwhelming police force, Justin Trudeau’s government has only encouraged protest organizers to step up both their disruption and their demands. – to the point where Canada’s entire economy is constricted at its border crossing. chokepoints, and protest organizers are demanding the resignation of Trudeau and his government. It is difficult now to see the rapidly escalating crisis in Canada being resolved without the intervention of the Canadian Armed Forces. Tragically, Canadians will end up killing Canadians.

New Zealand prides itself on the fact that its political leaders are prohibited from directly intervening in matters of operational policing. Alright, we don’t want politicians giving orders to the police.

But that doesn’t mean a government should remain indifferent to what most of the public would view as a serious dereliction of duty by senior police commanders.

That the grounds of Parliament have been occupied by demonstrators who have obstructed public roads, harassed innocent bystanders, closed commercial and administrative premises, refused to obey legal instructions and reacted violently to all attempts to advance them , is a situation that should not be allowed to continue. With the police seeming to interpret the “right to protest” as an open invitation to protesters to ignore the rights and freedoms of their fellow citizens, the Prime Minister and her office have a duty to make it clear to Police Commissioner Andrew Coster that this affront continuous: both the symbol of our democracy; and to the rule of law itself; must be ended – now.

Let’s see what “a state of coercive action” looks like.


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GUEST BLOG: Ian Powell – An oath that stands the test of time https://threewisemenblog.com/guest-blog-ian-powell-an-oath-that-stands-the-test-of-time/ Sun, 06 Feb 2022 06:32:07 +0000 https://threewisemenblog.com/guest-blog-ian-powell-an-oath-that-stands-the-test-of-time/ Hippocrates led to a fountain of medical ethical principles The Hippocratic Oath is an oath of medical ethics historically taken by all physicians. It is the first expression of medical ethics establishing several principles that remain of paramount importance today, including confidentiality and non-maleficence. The original oath is traditionally attributed to the Greek physician Hippocrates […]]]>

Hippocrates led to a fountain of medical ethical principles

The Hippocratic Oath is an oath of medical ethics historically taken by all physicians. It is the first expression of medical ethics establishing several principles that remain of paramount importance today, including confidentiality and non-maleficence.

The original oath is traditionally attributed to the Greek physician Hippocrates (460-370 BC) but may not have been written by him. Nevertheless, a scholarly Greek tradition followed, known as the Corpus of Hippocrates, which unfolded over many years.

‘First do no harm’

The first principle of the Hippocratic Oath is considered to be “first do no harm”, although the precise phrase does not appear in early published versions. However, the wording “I will refrain from any intentional wrongdoing and harm” was there.

I came across this first principle early in my more than 30 years with the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS). At first I thought it was a bit minimalistic, but I quickly appreciated its wisdom and power. Occasionally I would use it to amplify a point in a media interview.

These four words say a lot and go far beyond the practice of medicine. Dr. Peter Roberts (intensivist and physician and former president of ASMS) once said many years ago that bad policy is more harmful to patients than flesh-eating bugs.

Dr Peter Roberts: bad politics more harmful than flesh-eating insects

Yes…

If the “First do no harm” principle had been applied to health policy-making in the 1990s, New Zealand would not have tried to convert our cooperative public health system providing a universal public into competing commercial enterprises. .

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Former Prime Minister Jim Bolger first hurt by commercializing the public health system

If ‘first do no harm’ had been applied to New Zealand’s health workers, the woeful neglect of previous National Government-led and current Labour-led governments would not have happened. The severe shortages that the healthcare system faces today, with the resulting fatigue and burnout, would not have happened.

Prime Ministers John Key and Jacinda Ardern initially harmed the public health system by ignoring growing health worker shortages

The subsequent denial of access to diagnosis and treatment for patients would not have occurred. The quality of patient treatment would not have been put at such risk. Health personnel would not have had to pay for this precarious situation with their health.

If ‘First do no harm’ were enforced, the Labor government would not abolish the statutory bodies (District Health Boards) responsible for providing healthcare to New Zealanders in the midst of the pandemic.

Hippocrates Corpus and Airs, Waters and Places

Recently I read a fascinating analysis of the interplay between capitalism and the ecology of disease written by three American sociologists (two professors and one associate professor) in Monthly review (June 2021) Corpus of Hippocrates.

It is highly recommended reading, including on the significant contribution of Dr. Salvador Allende to epidemiology (Chilean President-elect overthrown by a deadly military coup in 1973).

But what struck me first was an excerpt from part of Hippocrates’ Corpus. Specifically, it was from the beginning of the classic Hippocratic text Airs Waters Places (around 400 BC). It was written for the Greek medical profession rather than the general population (citizens and slaves) but has wider application to healthcare systems.

It is worth repeating both because of the wisdom of the time and its contemporary relevance:

Anyone who wishes to study medicine well must proceed as follows: in the first place, consider the seasons of the year, and the effects produced by each of them, for they are not all alike, but differ of themselves as to their changes. Then the winds, heat and cold, especially those which are common to all countries, then those which are particular to each locality.

We must also consider the qualities of the waters, because as they differ from each other in taste and weight, they also differ greatly in their qualities. In the same way, when one enters a city to which one is a stranger, one must consider its situation, how it is with regard to the winds and the sunrise.…

These things must be considered with the greatest care, and concerning the waters which the inhabitants use, whether they are marshy and soft, or hard, and flowing from high rocky situations, and then so salty and unsuitable for cooking, and the ground, if it be bare and devoid of water, or wooded and well watered, and if it is in a hollow or confined situation, or if it is high and cold; and the manner in which the inhabitants live, and what are their occupations, whether they like to drink and eat to excess, and are addicted to indolence, or whether they like exercise and work.…

For if one knows all these things well, or at least most of them, one cannot fail to know, when one enters a foreign city, either the diseases proper to the place, or the particular nature of the diseases so that one will not be in doubt as to the treatment of diseases, nor will he make mistakes, as is likely to be the case provided these questions have not been considered before.

And most importantly, as the season and the year progress, he can tell what epidemic diseases will attack the city, either in summer or in winter, and what each individual will be likely to experience from the change in diet.… For with the seasons the digestive organs of men undergo a change.

Social determinants of health

The three sociologists correctly describe these words as a dialectical, materialistic and ecological approach to epidemiology. They quote Frederick Engels saying approvingly that “the ancient Greek philosophers were all born dialecticians. What emerges from the wise words above is their solid materialistic and ecological foundation.

They also point out that a “key element of this view was the notion of a dialectical relationship between the body and the environment, such that the body was situated or embodied in a particular place. place and special natural conditions (air and water)…”

In today’s parlance, much of the Hippocratic corpus concerns what are called the external social determinants of health, which the World Health Organization (WHO) describes as the non-medical factors that influence health outcomes. health. They are:

…the conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live and age, and the larger set of forces and systems that shape the conditions of daily life. These forces and systems include economic policies and systems, development programs, social norms, social policies and political systems.

Social determinants are the main driver of health demand (and cost); even more important than health care and lifestyle choices. They have a great influence on health inequalities with a gradient based on the lower socio-economic position of people, the worse their health.

WHO social determinants consistent with Hippocrates

In a practical context, examples of social determinants identified by the WHO are:

  • income and social protection;
  • education;
  • unemployment and job insecurity;
  • working conditions;
  • food insecurity;
  • housing, basic equipment and the environment;
  • early childhood development;
  • social inclusion and non-discrimination;
  • structural conflict; and
  • access to affordable health services of decent quality.

Apply Hippocrates today

It is amazing that the insights and wisdom of Hippocrates, his Oath and his subsequent body of work are so relevant to today’s healthcare system and medical profession, both in New Zealand and around the world. This is despite the fact that modern healthcare systems and the practice of medicine are infinitely more complex than those ancient Greek times. The essence of Hippocrates remains just as instructive.

The sooner the decision-making of the health system (including its political leadership) is, above all else, based on the principle of doing no harm, the sooner the efficiency, benevolence, accessibility, quality and the fiscal performance of our health care system will improve.

It starts with recognizing the importance of investing in the system’s greatest asset, its value-driven workforce with its enormous intellectual capital. It also means not destabilizing how we provide health care to geographically defined populations, especially during a pandemic. It’s ABC, but for our political leaders, it’s XYZ.

More difficult but equally important is that we need a transformational and tangible approach to addressing the social determinants of health. Because they are external to it, there are limits to what the health system can do.

But the culture of engagement at Canterbury DHB that has led to health journeys between community and hospital care which, in turn, has led to unprecedented bending of the acute demand curve has shown what is possible.

Unfortunately, this culture has been crushed in Canterbury by dirty central government politics aided by business consultants. The Ardern government would be wise to foster and spread this culture of engagement.

However, the greatest impact on social determinants requires strategic government direction focused on reversing the examples identified by the WHO. The government has embarked on this and has taken positive initiatives such as healthy homes and public health initiatives by Associate Minister of Health Ayesha Verrall.

But a strategy that these fragments do not. Maybe a conversation with a hologram of Hippocrates would help!

Ian Powell was executive director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, the professional union representing senior doctors and dentists in New Zealand, for over 30 years until December 2019. He is now a health systems commentator , labor market and political living in the small river estuary community of Otaihanga (the place by the tide). First published at Second opinion of Otaihanga


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