Ask before you answer
I am reminded by someone more intelligent than me that much of our armchair engagement with ‘current affairs’ is based on vague, brief information and a profound lack of understanding. We can’t be experts on everything, but we can stop to think before we fill the air with ill-informed ideas or judgements. It’s tough because information must come from a source, and an impartial source is hard to find and recognise. Maybe we can start by seeing what the people about whom we are talking have to say about themselves.
Now that the fences are down in South Wales (though – strikingly, alarmingly, inevitably – pick your adjective, erected in France for a different purpose), we could pause to find out about the North Atlantic Treaty Organization which was much-protested against and much-discussed this summer.
Here is NATO Secretary General AndersFogh Rasmussen summarising the summit in South Wales. He seems to be an approachable, polite man from the evidence of his tweets (which are followed by replies from angry people).
Here is the website where NATO explains itself accessibly.
Note: “NATO’s essential purpose is to safeguard the freedom and security of its members through political and military means. … NATO promotes democratic values and … is committed to the peaceful resolution of disputes.”
Note also: “If diplomatic efforts fail, it has the military capacity needed to undertake crisis-management operations. These are carried out under Article 5 of the Washington Treaty – NATO’s founding treaty – or under a UN mandate, alone or in cooperation with other countries and international organizations.”
It’s a start.