This is the first issue of The Northern Lights (TNL) published after the debut of the second official TNP news publication The North Star (TNS) and the coinciding reorganization of TNL. Whereas TNL used to include many internal, regular articles including the NPA Bulletin and the Regional Assembly Highlights, those have since been moved to TNS and TNL now consists entirely of creative essay style articles which cite the author's opinions. Likewise, no views espoused in this will represent the official TNP government stance unless otherwise stated.
World Assembly Article
The World Assembly Should be the Primary Forefront and Focus of TNP Foreign Affairs
The support of the World Assembly Legislative League, it was once said, meant that a resolution was guaranteed to pass. With thousands of WA votes at hand, the WALL as a bloc was a pretty much insurmountable obstacle to resolutions and authors it opposed.
This is no longer the case. The East Pacific has vastly increased their endorsement levels, and so too have other regions. More cooperation between them combined with a more effective and rebellious rank and file in the World Assembly means that WALL no longer represents such an unsurpassed power bloc. It is still extremely powerful and WALL support of a resolution can often be the defining factor of whether it fails or succeeds. I posit that The North Pacific could, and should, do more.
There has been a general lack of consequences-based approaches to foreign affairs for a number of years now. Issues arising in Balder and The South Pacific are dismissed or not commented upon because they are friends and allies. Leveraging TNP’s WA vote to aid or oppose their goals in the WA, or to condemn their leaders, is a definitive and strong way to show that actions do indeed have consequences. Using this against allies would be a drastic measure, but may be effective when simply publishing a statement on the matter is not. Statements don’t seem to have any effect in moderating behavior we find worthy of comment.
Leveraging our vote in a positive way can also be used to build new relationships and further the creation of more powerful voting blocs. The East Pacific is increasingly World Assembly-focused. Between TEP and other key players, an opportunity is presented to build upon the foundations laid down by the likes of United Massachusetts.
Bringing other regions with higher concentrations of World Assembly authors into TNP alliances - either by bilateral treaties or via entry into WALL - should be a key goal for any World Assembly-focused foreign policy. Good relations with regions such as Forest, Ridgefield and fellow GCRs such as Osiris and The Rejected Realms that are active in either chamber of the WA should be pursued and cooperation on World Assembly matters would be a key component of that.
The North Pacific Army also can be utilized to pursue our chosen WA outlook. The ’WA Blocker’ is a potentially very powerful tool with which World Assembly resolutions can be prevented from reaching quorum by removing delegates that have approved the resolution. The feasibility for the reverse - getting resolutions to quorum by taking regions and approving resolutions - has yet to be tested, but could also yield productive results.
The limits of a World Assembly-focused foreign policy can be mitigated by also spending adequate time cultivating ties with non-WA-focused regions, and seeking to smooth over any potential disputes by leveraging our WA vote in favor of the upset party. It will take careful managing and effort by the Delegate and his Ministers of Foreign and World Assembly Affairs, but a World Assembly-focused foreign policy is entirely the kind of refreshing outlook that can help shake things up, both at home and abroad.
On The NPA's Recruitment Efforts
WRITER'S NOTE: this was finished on 05/12/2018 (DD/MM/YY) so may cite events explicitly or implicitly as having happened more recently then they have at time of publication.
The North Pacific Army (NPA) is one of the largest and most active militaries in the game; it’s not the biggest or the most overall skilled, but it’s certainly no slack. It regularly pulls eight people on update for even minor operations and consists of dedicated TNPers who have often been serving for years for the NPA. Together, they have collective expertise and experience of well over a hundred individual operations and perhaps over a thousand targeted regions.
For piles, the NPA most recently deployed nineteen soldiers in St Abaddon within only a few hours, and on the day of this writing participated in a tag raid with Osiris and The Black Hawks (TBH) where it hit 83 targets and counted as many soldiers provided by Osiris and TBH put together. Historically, the NPA has been instrumental in many great operations (including Nazi Europe in 2014) and is still a regular combatant of fascist forces in NS.
Much of the influence of the NPA can be attributed to now General and Security Councillor Gladio, as well as longtime members including Generals Quietdad and Zazumo as well as current Minister of Defense Loz. Despite the great power of the NPA, I (Malphe) feel, and have felt for some time, that it has room for improvement in one particular area; recruitment.
Of course, there are several ways the NPA already recruits. When you open the forums and go onto The Docks you will see the military applications thread just by the citizenship applications and the executive staff applications. Home Affairs has also conducted recruitment drives for the NPA in the past. But there is another, albeit maybe less professional way we could approach the issue. I’ll use the recent battle in St Abbaddon as an example for this argument.
The Pacific, and potentially other involved regions that may have used a similar tactic that my puppets didn’t catch, sent a regional telegram encouraging members of the region to take up arms and pile in Abaddon without explicitly needing to be a member of their military, the Legio. This is essentially the NS equivalent of rousing and gathering a militia to bolster the professional forces, and doubtless contributed to the gargantuan amounts of soldiers the NPO deployed (approximately, or upwards of one hundred). If they hadn’t sent out that telegram it may very well have cost them many potential soldiers.
I know the prospect may generate some debate, and I am by no means implying that we take action as radical as that, but I feel as though bringing the NPA into the open and gameside may be a wise course of action. The NPA as a whole is a little under wraps. To the average player gameside it’s an enigmatic organization with mentions buried in the forums and under dispatches. I’m sure a lot of casual issues players have no idea what the NPA is, whereas they’d know other TNP government organizations due to their gameside presence.
I do claim some responsibility for the gameside decline of the NPA’s presence. During my term in early 2018, I neglected the previous practice of sending telegrams to NPA members' nations for ongoing operations - this cost us perhaps over a dozen pilers by my estimation. Whilst the regular officers and updaters who often lead operations will stick with the NPA over rocky ground and periods of inactivity, the more casual players who aren’t on discord (or aren’t active there) will lose interest if there is a considerable lapse in operations they can interact with, or have not been properly notified of said ops. The record deployments of upwards of 35 soldiers have been achieved through the recruitment of pilers gameside.
If you wanted to see the greatest example of recruitment to a military and the benefits it can bring, then you should again look to the NPO’s Legio. Say what you will about the leadership or what they operate for, but they are many times larger in active soldier count than the NPA, and this was achieved through rigorous and dedicated recruitment efforts. In this example, recruitment extended to not just gameside sources but sources separate from NS entirely, such as from the P&W and CN branches of the NPO. This is what won them the clout to throw around upwards of one hundred pilers. I believe that if we take no other example from the Pacific’s governance, it should be the way they have recruited for their military.
So what does this mean? This means sending out gameside alerts for ongoing operations. This means going out of our way to recruit new members on mass. This means going the extra mile and putting all of High Command to work on expanding the NPA and potentially reorganizing it to better suit the modern landscape of R/D and the NPA. It perhaps means adopting the method of enlisting non-NPAers to crucial NPA operations through a WFE slot and regional telegrams.
But the NPA, of all the GCR militaries, is in good shape as it is. The SPSF is tiny and is attempting to get off the ground again. The EPSA only managed to pull as many pilers as they did for St Abbaddon due to extensive gameside recruitment; many of those flying TEP’s flag weren’t even formal members of the EPSA. The armies of all the sinkers (and the singular catcher if you’re so inclined) are still quite small, if persistent. Point being, whereas other GCR militaries are struggling, the NPA is still going strong.
By the arguments I have made here, I by no means say that the NPA is weak or petty - it’s one of the premier militaries in the game and nobody can deny that. I only feel that there is some room for improvement in terms of recruitment for the organization and that we could reach new heights. The potential of the North Pacific Army is near unmatched. All it might take is one or two revolutionary leaders to bring it into the limelight of all of gameplay.
Getting Started In The Judiciary
Have you ever been nominated as a candidate for Justice?
My name is Marcus Antonius. I have been playing NationStates since May and had been looking for an entry point into the more interesting aspects of NS: regional governments, specifically that of The North Pacific. The game has become a routine in my life which keeps the old grey cells exercised. I joined the offsite forum and published some items in TNP's University. I still wanted more to do, so I joined some ministries, which helps to keep me active. Then this nomination for Justice came up out of the blue. Not one to back down from a challenge, I accepted the nomination. That started five days of excitement and fun for me. (Also a lot of hard work in learning the Laws etc.) I had no experience in TNP law, and due to personal ignorance of it, I was set to be on the back foot. The result was to be expected - I eventually ended up in last place (yet still took 21 percent of the vote). This made me thoughtful about the process and the system of how to become involved with the judiciary.
To gain information on becoming a justice, I interviewed all three winning justices from the last election, held in November, Sillystring, Eluvatar and Limerick1. From these interviews I gleaned a lot of information about becoming a Justice. Here is a guide on how to become one.
The first requirement is - as all three of the winning justices agree - you need to have a good knowledge of the Constitution and The Bill of Rights of The North Pacific, as well as our Legal Code and standard operating procedures. These were written in order to guide The North Pacific in its practice of democratic governance.
You will find these documents within the The North Pacific Handbook in the Law Index. Here you will also find rules and procedures governing the Court, Regional Assembly, Security Council and Election Commission. Various Treaties are also available to view. In order to present a clearer and more comprehensible legal system, the Regional Assembly undertakes to keep the law of the North Pacific organized and clear within the Legal Code of The North Pacific.
The next requirement is experience, which can be very difficult for newcomers, as more than likely they will have none. So how can you gain experience? From my interviews, it is clear that it's best to simply start participating in day-to-day government activities of the region. Become a citizen and become involved with the Regional Assembly. It is also imperative to become educated on the ways of the region, from the foundational documents of our democracy to recent additions to the Legal Code. Read each of the documents within the Legal Index and ask questions. It can be helpful to participate in legislative discussions, and serve under the Attorney General's or Speaker's Offices.
Generally speaking, the justices I interviewed gained experience following their own advice, as listed above. They first and foremost read and thoroughly understood the fundamental documents of our region. Two of the three also became involved in various offices, and participated extensively in regional affairs.
The most important factors in your campaign for justice are to know the law, understand the role of the court, have gained name recognition through regular participation, and be able to resolve complex legal dilemmas in order to demonstrate how you will act while on the job. People who are regularly active and have served well in other roles before have the advantage of public trust, whereas newcomers must explicitly show what they offer to the region in order to be taken seriously. That said, each judicial candidate is vetted with many of the same questions.
In the case that all candidates are qualified, people vote for the kind of justice they want to serve in the office. In such a situation, it's difficult to tell whether voters vote based on qualifications, what decisions said candidates might make, or candidate popularity in the region. The justices I interviewed did not find voter decisions based on popularity to be a problem, and found it unfair to suggest that popularity might lead lesser-qualified justices to be chosen. Notably, The North Pacific gives newcomers a fair chance, but it's best to come prepared for the questions voters might ask.
There are various executive ministries to assist the government. These ministries provide training and experience in the career choices of the citizens. But there is no Ministry of Justice. All Ministries in The North Pacific serve at the behest of the Delegate. All Ministers are appointed by the Delegate. The Judiciary and the Courts are separate institutions over which the Delegate has no jurisdiction over. SillyString also added a chilling statement about a prior form of the Ministry of Justice under the NPD. This essentially rules out such a possibility. But while there isn't a Ministry, shouldn't a considerable effort be made to mentor newcomers on the law? Shouldn't there be some form of training to prepare new generations for the offices they may soon serve? Given the importance of the Judiciary and Courts, one would expect more attention to be given to this area.
I asked each of the justices to share their thoughts regarding such an idea. Each agrees that more rigorous training and proper manuals are needed to improve the operations of this side of TNP's government. Indeed, Eluvatar has for some time been working on a Legal Manual that includes a piece on legal theory and contains decent analysis of the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and sections of the Legal Code. The intent was for it to also include analysis of our treaties, court rulings, and other essential components of TNP's legal history. While progress has stalled, such a manual may be worth continued effort. Limerick1 also brought up a good point that while providing training can be helpful to newcomers, it also poses the risk of instructing them what to think, rather than simply providing the tools needed to support each individual's independent critical thinking. The justices seem to agree that the Attorney General's office is the correct venue to provide legal education and assistance. In fact, with the recent addition of the FIRST STOP program, progress seems to be taking place. The FIRST STOP program is meant to help prevent Requests For Review (R4Rs) from being dismissed over technical fallacies. It allows the Attorney General's office to provide recommendations to ensure that the R4R meets TNP legal requirements such as the demonstration of standing. Such a program is exemplary of the change that should be happening across the Judiciary and Court Systems to demystify the legal proceedings of the region.
It is my opinion that there is definitely progress to be made to both clarify the legal code and provide legal education to newcomers to The North Pacific. That said, given the amount of required knowledge and experience needed for the position, becoming justice will remain no easy feat for anyone. As a newcomer myself, with little experience and only the legal knowledge of a few weeks of cramming, I feel that I did strangely well. I took 21 percent of the vote. What if I had succeeded?
I enjoyed interviewing the Justices - it was a real pleasure and very informative. I wish to pass on my thanks to them for sparing their time and I wish them all the very best.
The final words I shall pass to Sillystring.
“Justice isn't, in general, an entry-level role. TNP has six years of history under just this constitution; if you try to jump into it without some basic groundwork first, you're gonna have trouble”.
An Unexpected Interview
“Hey, I couldn’t help but notice that you’re playing NationStates," I said, raising my eyebrows. The well-dressed man with an Italian-style flat cap glanced at me, then nodded and waved me over. As I would later learn, this was not just a meeting of two NS players, but two prominent players in two of the largest and most prominent regions. This was a first for me, and as I approached, I considered how rare an opportunity it was. Looking back, I marvel at how fate had decided to alter the course of what had been a long, tiring day.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The Amtrak from Union Station winds north along the California coast, passing first through bustling stations on the outskirts of Los Angeles and then through sleepy rural towns. I was returning home after Thanksgiving break, and while I didn’t know it when the train left the station, the notoriously slow journey would test my patience. An emergency stop about forty-five minutes into the trip caused the train to be delayed for several hours.
I used the opportunity to get up and stretch my legs. I saw a handful of friends as I walked up and down the train. That isn’t unusual; many other students take the train when returning from holiday. But as I was passing down the length of the train towards the rear, I saw something that caught my eye: someone hunched over their laptop intently viewing NationStates.
I couldn't resist taking advantage of this extraordinary coincidence, and after introducing myself and him doing the same, I began asking him questions about the topics of the day. Naturally, this meant I asked him about Europeia’s recent declaration of war against the NPO, the ultimatum from Osiris, and their relationship with The Black Hawks. He said that he didn’t typically follow NSGP events, and that even if he had, he wouldn’t particularly care since he had settled into engaging with the World Assembly. While I didn’t want to press the issue, I did also ask him about his impression of Francoism. The term itself seemed to put a bad taste in his mouth, and he replied that Francoism is a dangerous ideology as it preaches a false superiority and inspires autocrats. We then moved on to discussing our origins on the site, from his time in The Nether to my time in the International Northwestern Union.
I was eager to share the meeting with my regionmates in TNP, and pondered what had just happened as I slowly returned to my seat. Then I quickly got on my phone and started talking about the encounter. As I began to relay the details of our brief conversation, including the fact he was part of The East Pacific's WA ministry, the others began connecting the obvious dots that I had missed.
“You met HIM, of all people?!” one of them exclaimed, signaling just how momentous this really was. I had assumed this guy was just a low-level staffer of TEP, so I was quite shocked. In retrospect, I should have known who he was the moment he referred to himself as Wally. I had heard of Wallenburg, of course, and his reputation for needling some people in our WA Affairs Ministry, but it was enough of a coincidence to meet another player on the train. It seemed impossible I had met someone not only active in a GCR government, but prominent in the game more broadly. After a few minutes, and a bit of nudging from the others, I decided to walk back down to his seat and have a much deeper conversation. This was an opportunity I could not pass up.
Wally allowed me to take a seat next to him, and we proceeded to talk about NationStates and the World Assembly for about one hour and forty-five minutes. What follows is my best recollection of our conversation.
This time he introduced himself by name, by which I mean his IRL name, and shook my hand. I returned the gesture. It turns out we had more in common than I had initially expected. Our destination was the same, he attends the same university as I, and we’re both studying technical fields. I was also struck by how different he seemed in person compared to his NS reputation. Whereas I had only ever heard of him as a prickly individual, I instead found him to exude both kindness and understanding. Clearly, one shouldn’t always judge people by their reputations. After the more formal introductions, we dove right to the heart of the matter. He took his time to answer each question I had clearly and carefully.
I began by mentioning how difficult and frustrating I found the drafting and proposal process to be for WA resolutions. Wally assured me that becoming familiar with the WA’s rules, traditions, and standard procedures is difficult for everyone. When it comes to authoring WA resolutions, he swears by an initial draft which should be posted in the NS WA forums for discussion. Doing so immediately raises your chances of success. Far too often, newcomers skip this stage and will likely not only fail to have their proposal reach quorum but may also find that their proposal has violated WA rules. By discussing the resolution on the forums, other more experienced nations can help you edit the language for clarity and legality. While WA regulars can be harsh in their criticism, Wally endeavors to make his criticism constructive. The WA has a very set way of doing things, so heeding at least some of this advice is important. While there is no set amount of time a proposal should remain in the forums, a good rule of thumb is two weeks. WA regulars are also often cognizant that newcomers may just be trying to receive the WA resolution authorship badge and therefore may be particularly picky with people who have not yet passed a resolution.
In theory, the same standards are applied to everyone, so one should become familiar with the WA’s rules. However, these rules can be very technical in nature, so naturally there are examples of regulars applying them incorrectly to discourage newcomers. Wally condemns this practice as both overly hostile and unhelpful. When this occurs, these nations seek not to confront proposals based on their merits, but rather to shut a proposal down based on oftentimes nebulous concepts that new authors may not yet understand. To facilitate learning the WA’s rules, he has created his own ‘Handy-Dandy Guidebook to the WA’ in the form of a dispatch. This reminded me of Mousebumples’ WA 101 course, which I found to be of particular use for the same purpose when I got started. Of course, both of these guides are out of date. The WA forum has pinned a regularly-updated set of rules that is always a good starting place that should be consulted with first. Additionally, it can be helpful to become familiar with the common acronyms of previously passed resolutions, especially when interacting with WA regulars. The WA General Discord is also a fantastic resource for prospective authors, and is open to all as an additional forum for discussing current proposals, asking questions, and socializing with other WA members from across the NS world.
World Assembly watchers divide the world into International Federalists (IntFed) and National Sovereigntists (NatSov). On balance, Wally's views would tend to peg him as IntFed, as would the resolutions he writes, like the one he had just passed at the time we spoke, 'Don't Kill The Poor Act.' Wally doesn’t want to be categorized in that way. Neither philosophy makes much of a difference to him, as he aims only to judge each individual resolution on its own merits. He prefers the same judgment apply to his own resolutions, several of which have been successfully passed. At the time we spoke he had recently drafted a handful of repeals of proposals with names like the ‘Public Health and Vaccinations Act,' leading him to jokingly fear some will view him as some sort of harbinger of death.
One way to classify Wally might be the term he has given himself, “a professional critic of GenSec.” The way he tells it, the GA Secretariat (GenSec) is a necessary evil. They consist of a group of elite, experienced WA nations that determine the legality of WA resolutions before they make it to the quorum. They also hear appeals and mete out warnings to authors who they feel should know better. Although the system isn’t perfect, Wally does believe it works, and he has learned a lot from each member of GenSec, especially Separatist Peoples and Bears Armed. Wally is a tough critic of resolutions, so he feels that the fact he tends to approve nearly all of Separatist People’s proposals is testament to the strength of Separatist People’s writing and ability to make a compelling case for his work. And Bears Armed helped teach him to consider non-human nations when writing WA proposals, so now he collects a set of nations for each such example. A standout for him is the time when a proposal addressing unexploded ordinance and landmine removal registered a complaint from ‘sentient landmines.’ Since then, there are now a host of such ‘sentient’ nations.
Sentient objects are just one way that roleplaying nations are often a thorn in the side of WA authors. That may be so, but they also make NS a more interesting place as far as Wally is concerned. This is why he laments the number of nations who stubbornly mimic the general policies of the US. If he had his way, there would be more nations that would ascribe to Eastern philosophies, or perhaps would roleplay non-worldly magic nations.
Since he had a good opinion of GenSec members, I was curious how Wally felt about other prominent WA nations. Of Imperium Anglorum, Wally showed respect, but stressed the extent to which he tends to disagree with him. He describes his opponents as both dedicated and principled, albeit misguided. He also spoke highly of Yuno and Tlomz (Kranostav), though his interactions with them have been far more limited in nature.
Wally saved his strongest opinions for the trend of offensive liberations. The way he sees it, they are a deliberate misuse of the WA, which is not intended to handle OOC infractions. When players make use of offensive liberations (and condemnations for that matter), they must be careful to remain entirely IC as they argue their case. This further blurs the line between OOC reality and IC politics in dangerous ways. He stands by that even when Nazi regions are involved, and feels they are unfairly targeted by such resolutions. While the philosophy should be condemned, he argues that those regions do not present a threat and that by forcibly removing their right to play the game, an injustice is being done. The players may not truly be participants in fascist ideology and may simply be RPers. By “liberating” such regions, the WA deliberately acts not to rescue raided regions, but to open such regions to raiding. Since liberations can be difficult to repeal, offensive liberations tear down a region’s borders for extended periods of time, allowing raiders to grief the natives and destroy regional activity. While such behavior is normally condemned, regions who use offensive liberations turn a blind eye to such behavior.
Leaping right into big debates is second nature to Wally. Before becoming involved in the WA, he often frequented the NS General forum and became a familiar face in their debates. To this day, he describes NSG as a ‘toxic cesspool,’ and considers his time there to be broken into three tours: the summers of ‘15, ‘16, and ‘17. Even after all these years in the WA forums, 46% of his forum posts are in NSG. He has even compiled a dispatch of truly idiotic quotes from the General forums, in which he describes many of them as “offering a unique blend of hatred or stupidity to the NS forum scene.” Ultimately, he moved on from that section of the forums as the pernicious environment there was slowly getting to him. He finds NSGP to have many of the same characteristics.
Considering the culture of the General Assembly in the WA is not directly influenced by NSGP events, Wally prefers it. He finds the culture of the GA to be so different from that of the SC, in fact, that they should be entirely separate institutions. Having both side-by-side within the WA means that many players will vote for each resolution without fully realizing the different standards and cultures that define each side.
With all the hot takes exhausted, the conversation settled into familiar territory. We spoke a bit about why he originally joined TEP, as well as his future in the region. He expressed interest in becoming more involved in TEP’s WA ministry but was cautious in describing what he felt his next steps in politics are. I got the sense that he’s happy where he is, and that he will see where it takes him.
The work in the WA ministry comes naturally to him. Apart from working in TEP, Wally made a personal database of statistics he had compiled on each of the WA resolutions he has taken part in over the last few years. These statistics catalogue his vote as well as both the majority and dissenting vote percentages. You can find his website here: https://srwallenburg.weebly.com
Before heading back to my seat, I confirmed with Wally that I would be able to publish a story about our conversation, and he said yes. Wally also turned to me, and asked me a few questions about my experience in NS as well as my time serving as TNP’s Minister of Communications. I obliged and shared some thoughts of my own, but that's a different article for another day. With our conversation complete, I stood, shook his hand, and made my way back through the train to retake my seat.
Meeting Wallenburg was a phenomenal experience that not only made my exhausting day much better but changed the way I think of other NS players. He was kind, spoke with clarity, and clearly has an incredible work ethic. I cannot thank him enough for offering me his time, and I wish him all the best!
Publisher: Siwale :: Executive Editor: El Fiji Grande :: Managing Editor: Pallaith
The Northern Lights is produced by the Ministry of Communications on behalf of the Government of The North Pacific and distributed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Except where otherwise indicated, all content represents the views of the Government of The North Pacific.