Sod Pepsi's navy
July 19, 2019 12:03 AM   Subscribe

Had the Knights of Malta accepted Gotland, it may be useful these days. Sweden is still officially neutral, though is quietly building up its defences there (which would be crucial to controlling the Baltic; in particular, some strategic planners think that any Russian attempt to annex the Baltic states would require them to seize Gotland first to block NATO activity in the Baltic). Imagine a neutral, pacifist Sweden, and to its east, an independent Knights Of Malta, sorry, Hospitaller Order of Gotland, secretive, heavily armed and quietly watching. They fly AWACS aircraft over the Baltic and it's rumoured that they have nukes.
posted by acb at 1:29 AM on July 19, 2019 [4 favorites]

MetaFilter's own!
posted by smcg at 1:42 AM on July 19, 2019 [4 favorites]

Ooh, SMOM! I have two SMOM coins somewhere, acquired on a visit to Rome when I was a kid. I never quite understood why it was a kind-of-country, and now I do, thanks!
posted by zompist at 2:16 AM on July 19, 2019

Oooh this thread was fun, saw it yesterday via a tweeter from the Finnish Foreign Ministry just so you know how far it had gotten
posted by Mrs Potato at 3:07 AM on July 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

WHAT. This is super cool. How have I never heard of this? (Knights Templar, I know a little about.)

I had always wondered why it was St John's ambulance service, there being no ambulances in the gospels. (Of course this isn't a direct link, with Henry VIII confiscating land/assets and then British Aristocrats rebooting the order in Britain a bit later.) (wikipedia)

So cool how they are a sovereign state still.

Also yeah, super typical colonial Britain.
posted by freethefeet at 3:48 AM on July 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

Also yeah, super typical colonial Britain.

To be fair, I oversimplified a bit in the thread to avoid disrupting the flow / main point. In reality, the British actually agreed to give it back at first, but the Maltese themselves weren't super-sweet on the idea of the Knights coming back.

It had always been a relationship built on a promise of economic and security benefits. But by that point, the benefits of being able to legally pirate the North African coastal trade in the name of the Pope had mostly gone. The fact that the Knights had been booted out by the French showed that they weren't the protective military power for the Island that they had been before as well.

Not that this would have stopped the British from giving it back. They didn't really care what the general population thought. It just became a convenient excuse not to do so once it became clear they weren't going to be allowed to keep Minorca as a base for the Mediterranean Fleet.

So the Brits politely pointed out to the Maltese the obvious economic and security benefits of being the primary British naval base in the Med and, once they were on board stuck two fingers up to the rest of Europe and said they were enacting the will of the Maltese people, and to come and have a go if ya think yer hard enough.

Basically, with hindsight, I wish I'd made that jokey convo between the British and the Knights this instead:

THE KNIGHTS: Can we have our strategically important island back, please?
THE BRITISH: What Island?
THE KNIGHTS: That island.
THE BRITISH: Will of the people, bro.
THE KNIGHTS: Well, shit.

That's the thing about us Brits. We were playing the freedom card in service of economic empire before it was cool.

As I've said on Twitter though, in this particular instance it turned out to be a bit handy to Europe that we did. Without Malta, the allies would have lost the war in the Mediterranean theatre in WW2.

There's a reason the entire Island was awarded the George Cross, Britain's highest award for civilian bravery and courage, in 1942.

(This is why there's a George Cross on their national flag now, in case you're wondering)
posted by garius at 4:08 AM on July 19, 2019 [53 favorites]

After the Napoleonic wars no one really wanted to bring up the whole Malta thing with the British (the Putin's Russia of the era)

Ex-cuse me. We had a decent navy that could win things without combusting.

And yes, typical British Empire. Which still has some ramifications in modern defence strategy. As the Americans have noted, wherever you go in the world there are still some Brits sitting on a rock where you really want to plonk an airbase or spooksville.

Malta remains a place of intrigue and international vaseline sand repository. When I knew it well in the 80s, there was a big Libyan-funded mosque in the centre of Valletta that wasn't used as a mosque - there being virtually no Muslims - but was reputedly an arms store and forwarding facility for various Friends of Qaddafi. Malta's role in Pan Am Flight 103 is also an open topic. The place was certainly enormously corrupt, as I was given quite an education in how to get stuff into the island by my middle-class friends there, and what various officials expected of one as a result... (There were very stiff import rules on most goods, the avoidance of which kept large numbers of islanders in business.)

These days, it sells EU passports and blows up investigative journalists; I no longer have direct contacts there, but it looks as if old traditions are in a good state of preservation.
posted by Devonian at 4:13 AM on July 19, 2019 [8 favorites]

It was also, until recently, the home of the internet gambling regulator of choice for the entire EU. For entirely above-board reasons, I'm sure.
posted by acb at 4:56 AM on July 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

Sod Pepsi was a great man, it's good to see him getting some recognition
posted by thelonius at 6:13 AM on July 19, 2019

I'd always wondered what the story was, seeing them listed as a UN observer.

Will their experience over the centuries inform what happens to nations which lose all their territory to sea level rise, perhaps?
posted by XMLicious at 7:03 AM on July 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

This narrationof this story reminds me of Bill Wurtz historical videos
posted by mit5urugi at 7:19 AM on July 19, 2019

This narration of this story reminds me of Bill Wurtz historical videos

Interesting! Will take a look.

To be honest, I worked out a while ago that the best way (for me at least) to 'do' Twitter was just to tell the story as I would to friends in the pub.

Be blunt and upfront about why it's a cool story. Be accurate but don't get bogged down in minor detail. Don't be afraid to make a joke. Be quick.

Assume that if people want to know more after that, they'll ask.

Basically, just remember that because you're a massive, obsessive nerd about something, don't assume that means everyone else has to be. Feed them the basics and then let them decide if/how they want to interact with the topic more on their own terms.
posted by garius at 7:31 AM on July 19, 2019 [7 favorites]

Be quick.

posted by tobascodagama at 7:59 AM on July 19, 2019

can someone explain to me what "sod pepsi" means in this context?
posted by Jon_Evil at 8:11 AM on July 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

ah, i see. sod is a verb, and Pepsi's Navy was apparently another silly yet terrifying accident of history
posted by Jon_Evil at 8:15 AM on July 19, 2019 [4 favorites]

Yes, "Screw Pepsi's Navy" would be a roughly equivalent title in US English.
posted by tobascodagama at 11:13 AM on July 19, 2019

If this had happened in a video game it would not have ended as well.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 2:24 PM on July 19, 2019

Polhaus: [lifting the fake falcon] "It's heavy. What is it?"

Spade: "The, uh, stuff that dreams are made of."

-'The Maltese Falcon'
posted by clavdivs at 5:33 PM on July 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

These days, it sells EU passports

I kinda wonder how much it costs (more than I have I'm sure) because my first though on hearing the Sovereign Military Order of Malta could issue passports was how cool would that be? You'd probably be the only one to present that passport at the airport on any particular shift.
posted by Mitheral at 10:14 PM on July 20, 2019

The Sovereign Military Order of Malta is not the passport-selling entity. That's the Republic of Malta, which is the full-on nation state that governs the island.

I don't know how you get a SMOM passport - in most cases with non-state entities with statehood privileges, you become an officer at a certain level. A friend used to be a rapporteur for an ITU telecommunications standards committee (he signed off on V.32bis, modem fans!) and he had diplomatic status and a special passport as the ITU is part of the UN, and the UN has independent nation-state privileges. He used his privileges wisely - apparently, diplomatic status bods get access to uber-uber duty free booze, so he used to bring his Winnebago to Geneva, fill it full of orange juice and vodka ("The vodka cost less than the orange juice," he told me proudly) and put on some wild parties.

Which may explain some of the madness that went on around 56k modem standards, but I digress.

Anyway, if you want to buy EU citizenship through the Republic of Malta, it's roughly half a million euros.

The Malta Residence and Visa Programme Regulations (MRVP) otherwise known as Malta Golden Visa, is aimed at third-country nationals individuals and families seeking to reside, settle and stay in Malta.

The Malta Golden Visa is available to both the main applicants and their dependents, subject to a background check and a financial investment as it follows:

Property Requirement

Purchase of minimum €270,000 for a property situated in Gozo or in the south of Malta, or €320,000 elsewhere in Malta

Rental of minimum €10,000 per annum for a property in Gozo or in the south of Malta, or €12,000 per annum elsewhere in Malta.

Investment Requirement

​Makes an investment of minimum €250,000 in government bonds
Contribution Requirement

​A minimum contribution of €30,000 for a family.

But this is controversial and lots of judicial and other groups in Europe are lobbying to get this shut down - for some reason, it's been popular with Russians with large bank balances and a reluctance to engage in conversation.

(Gozo is very nice, and my favourite bit of the Maltese archipelago. I had idyllic times there, drinking farmhouse wine, eating prickly pears, snorkelling in the spectacular underwater scenery, and collecting fossils in the corn-yellow limestone. Just avoid the Mafia's weed plantations on the north of the island, and you'll be fine.)
posted by Devonian at 6:34 AM on July 21, 2019

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