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Posts Tagged ‘ France ’

Realpolitik: Big Boy Games, Big Boy Rules

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Today we learned of a fracture in the western alliance system as French and German leaders head off to Russia for peace talks on the Ukrainian crisis. This is a desperate and misguided attempt to reach a resolution, which in all likelihood is going to fail. The inescapable fact is that Russia is an aggressive state with a belligerent leader, who has thus far only played the realpolitik game. Already torn up is the German-brokered ceasefire from late 2014, not to mention treaties from the nineties which guaranteed Ukrainian border integrity. Without anyone effectively challenging Putin, there is no reason to believe that he will sit down and settle a political solution. The famed strongman of world politics will only back down and make terms when the alternative for him, continued belligerence, is the worse option.

One can only wonder where Angela Merkel’s reputation as the Iron Lady of Europe came from. So far she has only continually reiterated her country’s unwillingness to fight or supply arms to the Ukrainians as well as opposing proposals for new stationing of NATO troops in Eastern European countries. This stance is undoubtedly popular in a Germany which is still dealing with war guilt towards Russia and is more sceptical of its relationship with the United States. Merkel has also previously been praised for her understanding of Russia, having grown up in East Germany and for her fluent Russian. However her understanding had an obvious blind spot in the Crimea crisis. German-backed energy deals with Russia were no hindrance to the illegal annexation of Crimea and invasion of East Ukraine. Europe has effectively been caught with its pants down. Continue reading

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Six Nations 2015 – England Seek Revenge

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Of course Irish fans want one team only to run in as title contenders when the Six Nations kicks off, but there can be up to four potential victors in a given year. Even Italy, when they started in 2013 with that famous win over France, looked hotter than ever. England are without doubt second favourites and Wales, well they’re just always a threat in this tournament year on year. Scotland have that Vern Cotter fella in charge, maybe you’ve heard of him. Yes it’s not plain sailing for Ireland by any means. Continue reading

Six Nations 2015 – Title Defence Crucial For Schmidt’s Ireland

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If that seems like an obvious title well, it is. But for the second time in the last five years Ireland are defending champions of the Six Nations title and there’s a big difference this time around – World Cup 2015. No, we’re not going to harp on about the world cup and ignore the Six Nations as some can be found to do. But it’s there, for all teams in this competition, momentum is key and it’s season long momentum that is at stake in 2015.

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European Rugby – Leinster Face A Tough Run To The Final

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Dual blogged on I’m Talkin’ Here

When the European Rugby Champion’s Cup was announced the cries from this side of the pond were that the new structure was essentially designed to stop the Irish teams from winning all the time. Whilst not exactly true, this Round 6 weekend and the subsequent knock out lay out has shown exactly what is different about this new structure. The goal was to make the competition more competitive, and no team is seeing this more so than Leinster. In previous years a home quarter final was all but a guarantee of progression to the semi finals. This was down to the void that often existed between the top 4 and bottom 4 teams. However, with four less teams and therefore more competitive pools you would have to say that nobody, bar Toulon, has anything resembling an easy route through the quarter finals. And of course the draw for the semi finals can be cruel as always with Leinster likely facing down a Toulon in France engagement should they get past a resurgent Bath. Simple.

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European Rugby – Leinster Look To Lead

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One round left and relatively little change from Matt O’Connor. When your team has demolished Castres a week previous, why tinker with the formula I suppose. The other provinces aren’t quite as lucky, all three listing worrying injuries, but unfortunately only one of the three from south, north and west have any role potentially beyond this weekend in Europe. Continue reading

European Rugby – Munster Face Down Their Biggest Milestone

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New competition, new beginnings and a chance for Munster to reclaim some of their former glory. That is what awaits Anthony Foley’s men on Saturday when they travel to meet Saracens. It is getting tired and it is beyond cliche to say it, but Munster are a backs to the wall team at their finest moments. When all is required and all can be lost, that is when Munster sincerely find their place in European Rugby. There is no better recent example than that exemplary performance against Harlequins in 2013 when Munster were all but written off and came out blazing to send ‘Quins home licking their wounds. Of course, these scenarios don’t always go their way but there seems to just be a little in the air to suggest that won’t be the case this weekend.
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All Guns Blazing – The Fickle Nature Of Lethal Force

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Recent cases of hostage stand-offs in Australia and France have been ended by force, bringing this tactic into the limelight once again. Unfortunately this means of ending a hostage siege is unavoidably dangerous even amongst the most highly trained of police or military units, and their use should be limited to cases where all other avenues have been exhausted. In particular, negotiated surrender risks falling by the wayside as a viable option. Because society tends to value the hero who dramatically takes lives rather than the hero who quietly saves them, we risk a selection-bias in examining the optimal means to end hostage scenarios.

As a credit to the police units involved, yesterday’s stand-offs in France seem to have been a ‘home-run’. The Kouachi brothers were both killed while the single hostage escaped unharmed, although it appears that they exited without him, determined to die fighting. While four hostages died in the kosher supermarket, earliest reports suggest that they were murdered before the police raid took place. This success is commendable but should not set a precedent to the exclusion of other alternatives. In contrast, the Sydney siege saw the death of two hostages during the rescue and the injury of three others in still unclear circumstances. These cases demonstrate the fickle nature of such raids. Continue reading

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