40 thoughts on “Weekend reflections

  1. Opening up the SMH web page just now I was confronted by a Fox Sports Flash ad which spruicks their coverage of the cricket “uninterrupted by the Tour de France”. The graphics shows a racing cyclist colliding with a cricketer and crashing to the ground and lying motionless.

    A bit tasteless after the accident in Germany?

  2. Wandering through the Advertiser this morning, there in an article by Samela Harris, on the blog and wiki, was Professor John Quiggin. Dubbed as Samela says the “elder statesman of the Australian blogosphere”.
    Adelaide has been most taken with you PQ.

  3. Cross-media ownership laws

    Will Murrdoch get everything he wants out of changes to cross-media ownership laws? Will Howard benefit through (corrupt) ongoing favourable treatment in the media? Will Australian consumers and citizens benefit at all? What will happen to the ABC and SBS, and independent media? Will people seek quality commentary increasingly from the internet?

  4. re: the Fed Gov’t aggreeing to sign the ASEAN Treaty of Amity and Co-operation.

    At http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,16012312%255E1702,00.html
    kevin Rudd is making all sorts of nonsense about the Government making a backflip on agreeing to sign the Treaty. When only 3 months ago, Kruddie (as known in ALP circles) and others were carrying on about the Government not signing it!

    While it is a backflip, why not talk up the merits (which I am doubtful), rather than playing silly, petty point scoring. Particularly, as Kruddie would surely not propose ‘not-signing’ the Treaty.

    Silly times

  5. re: the Fed Gov’t aggreeing to sign the ASEAN Treaty of Amity and Co-operation.

    At http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,16012312%255E1702,00.html
    kevin Rudd is making all sorts of nonsense about the Government making a backflip on agreeing to sign the Treaty. When only 3 months ago, Kruddie (as known in ALP circles) and others were carrying on about the Government not signing it!

    While it is a backflip, why not talk up the merits (which I am doubtful), rather than playing silly, petty point scoring. Particularly, as Kruddie would surely not propose ‘not-signing’ the Treaty.

    Silly times

  6. elizabeth, actually Ruddy didn’t say that at all.
    He said there weren’t any problems in signing it as Japan had signed up and they had a military alliance with the USA!

  7. Interesting to hear the PM advocating increased power for Australia’s intelligence services within a very short time of the second set of bombings in London. I can’t work out why the PM is advocating this, since the laws aren’t really a political issue at the moment, or at least aren’t an issue with the general public. I see two possibilities:

    1. Genuine Need: Outgoing ASIO head Dennis Richardson called for the ASIO laws to be made permanent, and it may well be that there is a genuine need for harsher laws. The public has no real way of assessing whether the laws are sufficient or not. My view is that in such circumstances it is sensible to have a sunset clause in the legislation. Such a clause doesn’t really hamper the activities of the intelligence services, but does provide for periodic parliamentary review.

    2. Public Perception: Faced with two terror attacks on London, the government has to do something symbolic. Amping up security laws serves to show the public that Howard and his colleagues are doing something about terrorism. It’s also insurance against future terrorism in Australia. If the laws are changed and there is an attack, Howard can at point to his efforts to prevent such attacks. By doing so the electoral fallout will be lessened.

    I’m sure there are other possible explanations. Perhaps it is simply Howard seeking increased power. Perhaps it is ‘self interest’ on the part of Australia’s security agencies in that they are pushing for increased power and resources. I see these as less credible explanations because Howard is seeking increased power for agencies which are relatively autonomous in their operations.

  8. Wilful

    The answers to your questions are;

    1. No.
    2. No.
    3. Yes.
    4. The majority don’t give a fat rat’s clacker. They will survive if they are good enough .
    5. Yes. This already happens under the current legislation.

  9. GoTF, I think that Defence and Security was dramatically underfunded and under-resourced over the last 30 years, so now it is time to catch up. Better late than never.

  10. Cannot be absolutly sure of figures, but over 100 were killed last weekend in Iraq. Off the general media radar as to what is happening there?

    You need the internet to get some idea.

    Nobody would doubt that it is important to know the details of London crisis. Yet,the public is required to remain blissfully ignorant of the horrific situation in Baghdad. Even before a change of cross-media laws.

    Are we already mushrooms?

  11. Richardson’s extravagant pride in Pamela’s virtue as well as his critics’ extravagant praise of the morality of the novel evidently annoyes Henry Fielding, and make him in his first burlesque of the novel, Shamela (1741), take the attitude that this type of virtue was a sham.

    Shamela purports to set a record straight by exposing and refuting ‘the many notorious Falsehood and Misrepresentations’ of the earlier novel; it also puts ‘in a true and just Light’ the ‘matchless Arts’ of a calculating female hypocrite. Shamela discourses on what she insistently and distortedly calls her ‘Vartue’, and proclaims the she is prepared to talk of ‘honorable Designs till Suppertime’. Her employer and future hunsband, modestly referred to as Mr. B. in the original, is exposed as the bearer of the same ‘Booby’, while the once sympathetic Parson Williams ‘is represented ina manner something different from what he bears in Pamela’. Shamela systematically debunks both Richardson’s moral sententiousness and the essentially subjective nature of his narrative.

    Bloody hell PM, Samela (Harris) has been around for a long time. Further more we knew that her father was an intellectual. But to know someone (sort of) who knows this about Samela, Pamela is marvellous.

    Well, aside fom the fat rat’s clacker, you have made my day. May all of you who think this little gem was common knowledge drop dead.

  12. …Or it could have been a mistake for Samael. You know, like the “Trismegistas” in “Tristram Shandy”.

    But the point is, you would think parents would ask around a bit before committing to a child’s name. Even Homer Simpson tried to do it, when he concluded that “Bart” couldn’t be made abusive with a play on words.

  13. Homer Paxton Says:

    July 22nd, 2005 at 4:15 pm
    elizabeth, actually Ruddy didn’t say that at all.
    He said there weren’t any problems in signing it as Japan had signed up and they had a military alliance with the USA!

    Exactly, Homer, so what was all the point of trying to score a piddly, political point! The Government backflipped, in (supposedly) the right direction.

  14. It insult our intelligence,and demeans us all , to have Howard and Blair telling that of course Iraq has nothing to do with the London bombings. Howard even had the gall to say in that amazing scene in the london hospital bedroom of a survivor, that ,no.,her injuries had nothing to do with Iraq at all. Oddly today’s Asia Time”s has an article by a Pakistani journalist saying that both in Iraq and Afghanistan,insurgent groups have decided that they must strike at the home countries of the occupying forces(and where does that leave us,you may ask?) Oddly,20 years ago, when the long Irish conflict was at its’ height ,no one argued that the causes were not to be found in Irish events. Now of course Blair,and Howard and Bush cannot do that because its’ makes their warmongering policies seem likely to be the cause. …and that would never do.! Pity the poor Londoners who will suffer for their lying leaders,and when the war is finally given up as lost,will wonder why the loss and pain.!

  15. In the wake of the London bombings we should remember that the “war on terrorism� is only a metaphor. It is no more a military war than previously announced wars on crime, on want, on poverty, on drugs: all of them “wars� in rhetoric but not in execution.

    We delegate the business of fighting military wars to our armed forces, because this is their area of comparative advantage. A former Defense chief in one of the US’s key allies in Iraq, Australia, was once asked to define his department’s core business. He replied succinctly “killing people�. This special expertise is circumscribed by national and international law and convention, together with local rules of engagement, that strictly limit when and how “killing people� is acceptable.

    Metaphorical wars have no such institutional limits. The prosecutors of a metaphor make up the rules as they go, and through their use of language define both the enemy and the strategic objective.

    Our thinking is shaped by the words we use. The trap some governments including our own are prone to fall in to is to confuse metaphor with reality. If leaders think of the war on terrorism as an old fashioned shooting war they are likewise going to form the view that our armed forces are the right people to fight it.

    In reality the “war on terrorism� is not well suited to military force. It is much more like the war on crime – a matter of painstaking police work aimed at prevention and deterrence. As with the war on crime, there is little prospect that we will ever live entirely free of terrorist threats: but we can minimise them.

    In a military war, whether civil or international, the opposing sides always claim to have a cause for which they are fighting (whether they have a good case or not is a different and often irrelevant question). This cause legitimates the war in the eyes of their supporters. To see terrorist acts as part of a war paradoxically gives weight to the cause espoused by the terrorist. If instead we downgrade their status to that of vicious criminality we undermine their legitimacy: perhaps not immediately, but over time. This was exactly the strategy pursued by the British government in undermining attitudes to the use of terrorism by the IRA in the 1970s and 1980s.

    There is an overlap, of course, between military and police: both are part of what in the19070s we might have called the coercive power of the State. The military sometimes is called on to undertake policing activities, and vice versa: but this is very much at the margins. Each has their own area of core business and expertise.

    If we actually want to make progress against the threat of terrorism, we need to increase our resourcing of police – just as has happened in relation to the London bomings – and correspondingly deprioritise the use of the military. The more we inappropriately use military force (as in Iraq) the greater the succour we afford the terrorist cause. It is time to call terrorist actions what they are – criminal, isolated, illegitimate actions. To glorify them as the object of a war only adds to their legitimacy and the glamour they achieve in the eyes of disaffected young activitists.

  16. Brian J,

    I would tend to agree with you – except for two things.
    1. The Iraq invasion happened after September 11, 2001.
    2. The Irish catholics (or native Irish, whichever term you prefer) regarded themselves as occupied by foreign forces. Decolonisation of the Arab world had largely finished 40 years ago – and even that was only after a brief period of colonisation. With the possible exception of Israel (depending on your view) there has not been a substantial colonial presence in the middle east for decades.

    This is not a war between us and them, it is a war within Islam in which we are largely collateral damage – blamed by the fundamentalists for the problems which are largely of their own making.

    We, in the West, have a choice of standing back, seeing the problems fester and expand, causing more terrorism in the long term or getting in there and trying to help solve the problems. The second approach may cause more terrorism in the short or medium term but, IMHO, in the long term is the only real way to solve the problems.

  17. AR, I think you’ve forgotten the long periods of western rule over muslim or formerly muslim territory, over several distinct periods. It didn’t have to be specifically Arab, but even thinking of that, remember that the more than a century of French rule in North Africa is seen as merely one episode in an ever longer struggle, with a continuing loss of Spanish territory.

    What counts is what muslims perceive, not what you do. In this area, objective fact is less relevant as we are considering the things that drive people’s behaviour more than the results of past behaviour.

  18. “getting in there and trying to help solve the problems”

    seems like a good idea, but I would have thought this meant things like aiding non-extremist schools, leaning on the Saudis to stop exporting Wahabism and so on (including finding and killing/capturing AQ leaders).

    Instead, the leaders of the West have taken it to mean “settle old scores unrelated to the main issue, and behave as badly as possible in the process”.

  19. PML,
    I would at least partially agree – perceptions are the critical point. Are we going to change their (and in this I mean the fundamentalists) perceptions by doing nothing except beefing up our police, buying more oil and mouthing platitudes?

    A hands off approach (i.e. doing only the last two) led to September 11, 2001. To me at least, there is no reason to expect that more platitudes and oil would anything except bring more. We can only beef up our police response so far before giving up the very liberties that we have struggled so long and hard to get and retain.

    While some of us may disagree with what was done, I do not believe that sitting on our behinds would have been a viable response.

  20. Andrew, the vast majority of the S/11 bombers were Saudis. Established fact. Less clear is how many royal family connections left the U.S., straight after the attack, with the acceptance of the authorities.

    To strike out at these so called “fundamentalists”, because we cant sit on our behinds, defies reasonable logic. The attack on Iraq was surely to settle an old Bush score. A pretty extreme bunch of local Christian groups are getting a nod and a wink, here, from people who should know better.
    Bloody scarey,methiks.

    Stephen Bartos well said.

  21. stephen bartos

    If we look at the recent acts of terror: World Trade centre,The Pentagon, the Bali bombing, Madrid & London. Though not of the conventional type, these appear to me to be well targeted acts of war. To label them something else might have some strategic advantage, but in reality they are still acts of war by peoples that have major grievances. If we want to make progress against this threat of terror we need to look at the root of these grievances and try address them, as well as “increasing our resourcing of police.”

  22. The bombing in Egypt is deplorable, and sad.

    But one must look hard for any motives.

    Egypt didn’t invade Iraq!

  23. Oppressed people fight against their oppression. If I was oppressed I would fight. The oppression in this case is as usual economic.

    When you have a minority enjoying the majority of the worlds resources, at the majorities expense, that minority better have a strong fence.

  24. This is a war against the first world or people who are benefiting from first world affluence, by people who are being ripped off by the first world.

    It is not totally rational but some of them were western so there is method in their madness.

    An official source at Sharm el-Sheikh International Hospital said there were 88 dead and about 200 injured. Most of the victims were Egyptians but the Tourism Ministry spokeswoman said seven non-Egyptians were dead, including a Czech and an Italian, and 20 were injured.

    The injured foreigners included Italians, Saudis, Britons, a Russian, a Ukrainian and an Israeli-Arab.

  25. Efonwit – this belwo appeared on an Australian Islamic website, see http://www.islam.org.au/editions/jul2003/english/index.htm

    Its very rhetorical. But there does appear to be a sinister undertone. Apparently. (see the 2nd para) the Taliban regime was the paragon of human rights, religious diversity, and free speech.

    “The Muslim Nation does not concede to Defeat”

    Following the destruction of the Soviet Union at the hands of the Mujahideen in Afghanistan, the US administration started to assume a more aggressive stance in its international policies.

    As a result, they launched a crusade on Afghanistan, and then claimed a so-called victory over Taliban’s Islamic Emirate, eliminating the rule of Shari’ah and replacing it with a puppet anti-Islamic government that showered the Afghani people with promises of a better life and freedom.

    Assuming the role of the world policeman, the US estimated the so-called victory in Afghanistan would pave the way for unconditional and unopposed control over the Muslim world.

    However, a few months following the US invasion to Afghanistan, what the US had tried so hard to hide finally emerged. It became evident the US had not been able to secure the safety of its own soldiers in Afghanistan—let alone to take control of the country—proving the Taliban were never defeated, for they had executed a tactical withdrawal of their troops from major cities to preserve their arms and fighters.

    The crusaders and their apostate agents have so far failed miserably in detaining even one influential member of the Taliban movement or Al-Qaidah. The only achievement of the US invasion was the spread of poverty, crimes, diseases, lack of security and drug trafficking in areas under the control of the satanic alliance.

    In addition, the sharp increase in day and night Mujahideen operations against the allied forces, forcing them to withdraw from many of their positions in the south, east and centre of the country, had inflicted continuous losses to the allied military forces.

    Despite all this, the arrogant and self conceited US administration failed to analyse the reality facing them and they did not realise the gravity of their mistake in invading Afghanistan. On the contrary, they pursued their vanity and, amidst the opposition of the whole world, invaded Iraq on nothing but lies.

    Once again, and in a Zionist-like manner, the US administration exercised the same inhuman and barbaric policies in their attempt to take control over Iraq, as reflected through the random detention of Iraqi men, women, elderly and even children; and the destruction and looting of their homes and properties under the claim of ‘hunting down’ resistance fighters.

    As a result, hundreds of Iraqis were illegally detained and many others were killed. The US mistakenly assumed such actions would somehow twist the arms of the Muslim people of Iraq and would eventually subjugate them.

    The US had failed to remember the Iraqi people would never forget that their country was home for hundreds of years to the Abbasid Islamic Khilafah with a long history of struggle and sacrifice.

    It took only a few days for the struggle and resistance of the Muslim people of Iraq targeting the illegal crusade occupiers to begin, with news on the downing of US aircrafts and choppers, the ambush of tanks and armored vehicles, and the killing and wounding of dozens of soldiers on a daily basis.

    It was only then that the occupying army realised the gravity of the situation, and that the Iraqi people viewed them only as invaders not liberators, as the deceptive US President would like his people and the world to believe.

    The Muslim resistance intensified their daily ambushes, and the struggle was not hindered by the presence of some hypocrites and agents to the west, or by the silence of the Shiite Revolutionary Council.

    It is about time the US realise they are fighting a losing battle against Islam, for Islam is the True religion of God. A nation that takes the True religion and its Shari’ah as a way of life can never be defeated. The Muslim nation may lose a battle or two but they can never lose the war.

    Today’s crusaders are facing the same defeat as that of their ancestors who, throughout history, had failed in their crusades against the Muslim nation.

    The terrorist administration in Washington must realise the war on Islam is a losing war, and they must gather its mercenaries and armies and cart them away from the Muslim land for good, before it is too late

    On the other hand, the Muslims must realise it is only time separating the US from losing its military and economy power, because such is Allah’s way in destroying the oppressors.

    Allah (swt) says: “And these towns We destroyed when they did wrong. And We appointed a fixed time for their destruction.� [Surah AlKahf, 18: Verse 59]

  26. Lot of stuff there, Elizabeth and “leisurely”, as weekend reflections asks.
    This goose, would love to know what you are, actually, saying.
    I might be able to disagree or not.

  27. The observation I am trying to put forward is that these terrorists are not just a bunch of isolated criminals that can be stopped simply by ‘just’ increasing the police force.They are the symptom of the poverty and inequality that inflicts desperation on large parts of the world.

    There is a need to improve their environment so that the motivation and breeding place to commit these horrendous acts is removed. Religious zealots will always exist, but the environment to follow them into death needn’t.

  28. That’s a bit too involved for the hysterical right to understand I’m afraid eFo.

  29. eFonwit, I am not clear just how bad is the desperation in Leeds, compared to say…. Bourke. Please clarify for those of us who don’t quite understand how the poverty & inequality of Leeds (compared of course to Londond) is so bad that lads from Leeds are prepared to take London with them.

  30. These lads were not your normal non bathing pommies. They were for all intense purposes Pakistani. You have to ask yourself the question “what would motivate these well educated individuals to carry out such extreme actions”? (the same would have to be ask about the 9/11 & Egyptian terrorists)

    There are reports they studied Islamic teachings in Pakistan and that they had extended families there. They would have experienced first hand the extreme poverty & inequality prevalent when they were there. (gross per capita income in Pakistan is about $US740.)

    It is my supposition that their motivation was based on grievances connected with the poverty and inequality inflicted on countries like Pakistan by the exploitative western powers.

    A lot of the intellectuals in these poor countries are Islamic.They are exploiting the economic degradation to further their cause by capitalising on the nexus between the poors plight and the wests inhuman economic foreign policies. This manifests itself in terrorist actions. These actions are one of the few avenues open to them and although the effectiveness is fairly limited, its advertises to their supporters that they are trying to do something about their peoples hopeless plight.

    These attacks are not isolated incidents and there appears to be a pattern of increasing frequency.This can only escalate as the scale of the fundamental economic problem- that is the breeding ground for these events is huge:

    Today, across the world, 1.3 billion people live on less than one dollar a day; 3 billion live on under two dollars a day; 1.3 billion have no access to clean water; 3 billion have no access to sanitation; 2 billion have no access to electricity.�


  31. eFonwit – perhaps, just perhaps, it is their leaders that are causing their desperation. Economic privation, as study after study has confirmed is strongly linked to degrees of corruption, lack of free trade and poor institutions.

    PrQ, I would agree that the soft approch should also be used, but ‘leaning on’ the Saudis I do not think will work, at least not in the short term, as Wahhabi Islam is the justification of their rule and the core of Wahhabism is its all encompassing nature – the requirement to bring the whole world under Communist Islamic rule.

    That is where you and I, respectfully I hope, disagree. The main issue in the Middle East is the poor leadership. For the West it was bearable while they fought amonst themselves. The gradual pace of change (if it was occurring) did not affect us. That, of course, did not make it right, but there were other priorities. When the results of the poor rule there was that they started to fly commercial airliners into large buildings the priorities shifted a bit.
    The softer measures would, I would agree, have worked in the long term. Unfortunately, the political realities meant that waiting for the long term to come about was no longer an option.

  32. Intellectuals in the wealthy world are moral, honest, and want to alleviate poverty. But they have never been taught how the impoverished world was kept dependent and thus they cannot honestly address those causes. Only by this full understanding of economic history can the impoverished world gain their freedom. Wealthy world intellectuals would not push their nonsense when they know that their audience knows a lot better.

    Through abandoning control of the world through covert and overt violence and sharing both the world’s resources and the wealth those resources produce, world poverty can be quickly eliminated.


  33. Oh dear, eFonwit – Labour theory of value?

    From your article –
    “If a country is unable to protect their internal markets and imports their needs, there is no buying power within the country to support local industries and they will stay impoverished.”

    What nonsense is this? Have a look at the work of David Ricardo. Taken to its extreme (as this could easily and justifiably be) then there is no reason for any trade at all and we would each be out in the countryside scratching at our own little piece of dirt and hoping for good rains this year after digging in our own clay quarry to make a bowl. If we do it at a national level then we would be in North Korea or Burma – thanks, but no thanks.

    Freedom, in all its forms – including trade, is the only way to do it. Some government is needed to provide a framework, but not to protect in this way.

  34. Andrew Reynolds: what nonsense is your own post? David Ricardo, Adam Smith and most of the rest from their time wanted and justified colonialism. They never cared about how third world countries could develop. Ricardo/Adam Smith free trade worked as they had colonies. I think Adam Smith even wanted USA to remain a British colony because of the advantage the British Empire would have. Only had a brieft look at that article, but it does not imply no international trade. Only fairer world trade…

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