Saturday, September 14, 2002

Thanks to Little Green Footballs for this story.
A Mississippi man walking with his mother in Jackson suddenly pulled out a knife and stabbed her more than 15 times—because, he said, she was having an affair with a black man.
The son, Wade, told passersby that his mother deserved to die because she was having an affair with a Negro.

"He was walking with his mother hand-in-hand, when he suddenly drew a big knife and started stabbing her in the chest and face," according to shopkeeper who saw the killing. "It was a big shock for many people who happened to be in the market buying food before the long weekend”.
Another shopkeeper who also witnessed the killing said that at first he thought the woman was an outside agitator. "You know, we have become used to hearing about women who work with the NAACP," he said. "That's why when the young man started stabbing the woman, no one wanted to help here. We thought the killer was a member of the Klan."

The woman died shortly after arriving at hospital. They said she had been stabbed at least 15 times in different parts of the body.

The killing took place as dozens stood by, even as the victim, a mother of five, called for help, a town resident said. She said that only after the son fled the scene did a medical team approach the bleeding woman. ...

A source close to the family said the woman was divorced and had moved to Denver several years ago. The source would neither confirm nor deny that the victim had married a black man. "She was on a visit to her family in Jackson," the source said. "She didn't have a clue her son was planning to murder her. On Wednesday, people saw them walking happily, hand-in-hand in the central bus station. It's not clear what led the son to commit this crime."

Now go to the real story, and remember this when anyone tries to defend their true conduct

Can someone for God’s sake tell Phillip Adams how much he is embarrassing himself?

This week’s bullshit sees him suggest that Japan, Germany and Egypt (Egypt for pity’s sake!) are going to suddenly develop nuclear weapons because the US is investigating using tactical nukes to pulverise deep bunkers and cave complexes that hold various shitheel command and control operations. Yes, far better to have Saddam be able to push that big red button because he’s managed to dig himself ten yards deeper than the reach of our ideologically-approved weapons.

It’s easy to imagine twits like this watching Agincourt, squealing that longbows were the work of the devil. “the French street will rise up!”

Exactly why would Japan or Germany make a decision to divert hundreds of billions of dollars into a nuclear weapons program, Adams does not feel the need to tell us. Equally, we are in the dark as to exactly who they would be used against. He can’t say who, because the obvious answer is nutballs like Saddam, Kim il Jong, Gadaffi etc. But to admit that would be to admit there is a real threat there. So better to leave the question dangling.

Throw in Russia and China, who he thinks will ramp up their defence spending, even though they can barely feed themselves, their own Budgets are in tetters, and they only have to look at a pre-1989 atlas to see what happened to the last country that tried to match the US in any kind of defence spending.

He is trapped in circa 1980 thinking, when missiles were increasing, and that funny man Reagan was about to start making a fool of himself in the White House. Now he has the chance to recycle all his old scripts, once more preening for a fawning audience of rusted-on devotees.

Adams has devoted a large part of his adult life to 1) pretending he didn’t make vast pile of readies from advertising, and that he is still relevant to the Left; and 2) correcting the horrendous mistake that us iggorant, racist Aussies have made (three times on the trot!) by not electing the Government Adams had so graciously picked out for us. Really, the ingratitude.

So he can’t get through a column without the snide ad hominem swipe at the Prime Minister (Little Johnnie. Veeeery original, fat boy). He can’t get through a column without ridiculing the US as being “contemptuous of the UN”. I particularly liked the faux concern for “sending Australians into harm's way”. To people like this, dead troopers are stepping stones to influence, nothing more.


I want to see some hard numbers on what the acceptable level of “international support” is, and I want to see them up front. Written down. If it’s 10, 20 or 50, I want to know in advance, so these multilateral weenies can be shown for what they really are: whining, kvetching dills whose morality shifts like sand. Whose integrity is like catching smoke. Whose idea of consistency is like a greased pig chase.

And I want to hear someone say out loud that they would rather see International Law ™ upheld, and the sovereign integrity of this week’s tin-pot sandbox maintained, even if it costs Australian and US civilian lives. A smoking hole in Sydney, a botulism massacre in Chicago, a car bomb in London. These are worth the price aren’t they?

Go on the record. Tell us how many civilians in your country have to die before you will admit that we should not be hostage to the good wishes of the UN Security Council. That the word of your elected leaders is worth more than that group. I want numbers.

Bloody well say it. Or get out of the way.

Friday, September 13, 2002

Welcome to USS Clueless readers!
The Rottweiler does not like the UK Mirror. Not even a little bit. Especially when the paper runs a hankie-wetting piece on how bad life is in Gitmo Bay.
And I could name some 3,000 people who don't have any "basic human rights" anymore, thanks to these despicable swines' aid and comfort to a certain buttmunching goat molester, not to mentiont that these pigs weren't exactly big on "basic human rights" themselves when they were back terrorizing the Afghans. So don't expect me to cry too much over their "privations" now... Morons...

Which is nice …

The only thing that Misha left off, is that suicide talk from members of a psychotic death cult really shouldn't come as a surprise.

No-one is gonna tell me Sydney doesn't have the all-time winner for Olympic symbols!
Indepundit has taken the issue of ABL Dead or Alive to the microscope.
Fact 1: Al-Qaeda says Osama is alive but has not offered any proof.
Fact 2: The U.S. has not claimed or offered proof that he's been killed or captured.
Possibility 1: Osama is alive and free
Option 1.1: Al-Qaeda has proof
Option 1.2: The U.S. has proof
Option 1.3: Neither has proof (Osama has retired)
Possibility 2: Osama is dead or captured by U.S. forces
Option 2.1: Al-Qaeda has proof
Option 2.2: The U.S. has proof
Option 2.3: Neither has proof
The question is, which of the possibilities fits most closely to the facts and assumptions. The answer, I submit, is that Osama was killed or captured in the Tora Bora offensive.

This is forensic work at its best. Go read.

Read this rant from Alan Anderson about where our focus should be.
HINT: it's not on ourselves:
Today should have been a day for resolve and action. The media have tried to turn it into a group therapy session. But the only people who need therapy are the fundamentalists. It's time to fight back.

Herald writer Tony Stephens runs through Union Carbide, Malawi schoolteachers with AIDS, Indian earthquakes, Ethiopian drought statistics, Chernobyl, Bangladesh weather, Hitler, Stalin and the World Translation Hegemony to help us bring "perspective" to September 11. Oh, and Saladin was nicer than the Crusaders. In 1099. So there.

Naturally, we can expect the same lecture to some Third world country that loses 2000 to a mudslide. "Let's have a little perspective Colombia! After all, the Americans lost 3000 in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake."

Surprising that anti-hug campaigner Tim Blair doesn't have this one yet.

Media wunderkind John Safran eases up the corner of World Hug Day and finds …. an agenda! (pause for audience gasp).

Seriously, Safran is a very bright lad, and seems determined to make enemies of as many of the powerful as possible. He even dares to resist tugging the forelock to a certain Greens deity
The man known for his cold, monotone delivery, Greens Senator Bob Brown

With a minimum of research, Safran uncovers the religious cult backing Hug Day, a feat seemingly beyond the politicians and hangers-on who signed up.

For my money, the best part is the last:
Despite celebrity endorsement, Australia's "World's Biggest Hug" failed to break the Guinness Record set by 899 bankers at a New York conference in December 2000.


Thursday, September 12, 2002

ladies, gents.....

Whacking Day has been off the air for a few days, but Tex wants all his readers to keep the faith:

Some assistance please....

If I could grovel and beg for a favour: a brief mention on your blogspace that my site is down, and I don't know when it will be back up.

I had the misfortune to give my business to the world's most incompetent webhosting company. They're near the point of collapse...they've been bought out by another band of idiots who are moving all their servers to Houston. Needless to say...nothing is working properly and everything is behind schedule. I can't even put up a "be back soon" message could be back online tomorrow, or in a month for all I know. All permalinked articles can still be accessed but the intro page is dead as a doorknob. Of course, this *had* to happen on Sep.10.......


Steven den Beste is now a part of my daily reading, and as soon as I sober up I'll plonk him in the links column.

One of the great themes of Australia is "mateship". You don't let your mates down. Some writers say this originated at Gallipoli. Former Director of the Australian Museum, Dr Tim Flannery, has argued that the tradition is actually a continuation of aboriginal tradition, that is a response to our strange weather. The source is unimportant. What matters is that the ideal of mateship runs very, very deep in Australia.

Steve has done a creditable job of understanding this ethos, from the US perspective. He gets why we will stand with the USA.
Australia does stand by us. But it doesn't do so because it feels that it would perish if it lost our friendship (which is part, but not all, of Israel's motivation). Australia stands by us in part because of gratitude. America made great sacrifices in World War II for Australia and they know it. Partly it's a sense of honor: they've said they are our allies, and their word is good.
I think that more than anything else, however, it's due to a genuinely strong feeling of affection, comradeship, what amounts to true loyalty. The United States and Australia have a surprisingly large amount in common in terms of history and culture and attitude.

The man gets it, again and again.
In most of the reading I've done about WWII, I've never seen any indication that American commitment to preserving Australia was utilitarian, cold and calculating. It was more just a matter of, "Of course we'll fight there. Australia is a friend; you don't let your friends down." New Zealand fought on behalf of Australia, too, even though New Zealand was never plausibly in mortal peril from Japan.
Australia has that same attitude of "of course" towards us. I don't think that in the world today that Australia would really be hurt very much if our relationship with them became more distant. They're not keeping the faith for utilitarian reasons.
They're doing it because they are our friends, and to someone from the frontier tradition, you don't let your true friends down. It just isn't done. It's a matter of personal honor.
That's not to say that they automatically agree with everything we say; it's not like that. They've criticized us, we've criticized them. But in times of crisis we pull together. They'll be there for us; we'll be there for them. It's happened many times before on both sides, and it ain't gonna end now. I trust Australia like I trust no other nation.

And we will be there. You just don't let your mates down. Period.

Bill Quick at Daily Pundit has a Line to Remember:
Don't kid yourself. Islam is not going to bring the US to it's knees - unless it's because we're trying to find a better way to dump on them.

scroll through the comments on this post that wallops the global hash-dreams of al Qaeda.

Wednesday, September 11, 2002

The ABC Staff collective better hope that no-one ever runs a study like this on their cosy tenure. Here’s a taste:

Breaches of the [BBC] Guidelines which we have detected include:

Incorrect use of language
Unbalanced reporting
Inappropriate selection of material
Distortion and omission of facts.

We understand that the Israeli Palestinian Conflict is an emotive topic, and that it is difficult to avoid taking sides. Most broadcasters and other media may and do take sides. The BBC may not.

The BBC is funded by public money. Partly because of this, it has accepted a duty on itself to cover politically controversial issues in an impartial way. The persistent failure to treat the Middle East in an impartial way constitutes a breach of the trust which Licence payers have placed in the BBC.

I love the smell of Rottweiler in the morning.

Today he makes tennis hump John McEnroe feel like a stunt double from the money scene in Deliverance.

Memo to the "crushing of dissent" brigade. This is what repression looks like. Your claims of media control when your opinions are ignored and ridicules is an insult to Chinese dissidents who go to jail for their opinions, and occasionally get shot for their troubles.


Thanks to Juan Gato for this cartoon on the benefits of a GM-free lifestyle.
I'm not a constant reader of The Corner, but a piece today from Jonah Goldberg is worth reading. He takes on Susan Sontag's drift towards war, by dissecting her judgement of them as criminals.
The problem with this argument is that it uses "crime" and "criminals" as metaphors too. When she says there should be no "wartime" at home, she means that we should have the same rules toward sleeper cells of suicide bombers as we do toward people who rob 7/11s.

So, are terrorists – who claim to be at war, who use military tactics and have essentially military motives – more like criminals or enemy combatants? I say they are enemy combatants, and particularly nasty ones at that because they don’t obey the rules of war. Nevertheless, Ms. Sontag et al. claim that these combatants deserve better treatment than past combatants who did obey the rules of war. They don’t just deserve a Red Cross care package, they deserve Miranda warnings and Johnny Cochran. I think that’s ridiculous.

This should be kept in mind next time you hear some hair liberationist arguing that there has "not been sufficient proof" to justify war.

Paul Kelly is proclaiming from the Mount today, but he doesn't get it yet. He wants the UN to be given veto power over a US attack on Iraq, but acknowledges:
The worst option is doing nothing, as advocated by the virulent mob of US haters so prominent in our media.

Kelly does not offer an alternative course if the Security Council doesn't produce the goods. Keep in mind that of the five vetoes on the Council, one (France) has massive trade and defence links with Iraq, one (Russia) has a deal worth $60 billion deal hanging, and will prefer status quo. China's terms of trade benefits strongly when the US dollar dips, say, because of another attack. The other two, the USA and the UK are committed to an attack.

Kelly wants the USA to make its self-defence, and the safety of Western cities worldwide, hostage to the good wishes of the French, the Russians and the Chinese.
Bush's historic claim that containment and deterrence no longer work is unconvincing and premature. Remember that Bush has shunned the military option in confronting the rest of the "axis of evil", Iran and North Korea. So why not Iraq?

The only thing that will verify Bush's claim that containment is outdated, is a nuclear or biological attack on a Western city. These are big stakes, and Saddam Hussein's sovereign right to kick the shit out of his countrymen should not be a determining factor. As for the others, an attack on North Korea will provoke a land war with China, to no present advantage, and possible escalation into nuclear conflict. Iran has no immediate prospect of pursuing nukes, and is showing signs of lberalisation from within. And who's to say there are not plans afoot anyway. By Kelly's reckoning, that would make the attack in Iraq more legitimate.
US willingness to use force strengthens the prospect for a diplomatic outcome, because Hussein knows that if he keeps flouting the UN then a military strike is certain.

But force is only credible if it is inevitable. Making the threat dependent on the UN makes it conditional. Saddam knows he can string the UN along for years.
terrorism will not be defeated by military means alone and victory will depend upon the battle of ideas. Bush's failure is his inability to articulate a new international order and a plan for a better world.

Possibly, but how do ideas get through to the ground when totalitarian regimes control all information access? And is this a demand that the US decide the future of the world, before taking any action? Australia did not have a plan for East Timor, beyond ending the militia's reign. Should we have waited?
The US plan to destroy "rogue regimes" won't weaken al-Qa'ida.

Let's get Mullar Omar on the line to fact check that one into the ground. One of the world's principal sponsors of terrorists is gone, pounded into a thin red smear in a forgotten cave in Afghanistan. His network is dispersed, killed, or captured and his friends have gone to ground. Are they all gone? No. Are they bleeding? Yes. Is it terminal? Wait and see. But denial of safe havens is the first, non-negotiable step.
the post-September 11 question is whether the US, as global hegemon, pursues its security interest within the established global framework or goes it alone, using its military power in a neo-imperial manner to conquer and remake rogue regimes. This would weaken the role of US allies, undermine the UN and international treaties and cripple multilateralism for a generation.

And multilateralism through the UN has worked so well so far. Korea, Cyprus, Lebanon, Bosnia, Rwanda. Where are the success stories?

UPDATE: Eugene Volokh has more to say on why Iraq is different to the USSR.


It's difficult to find anyone who will not admit that the world in general, the Middle East in particular, but most especially, the Iraqi people, will not be better off once Saddam Hussein shuffles off his mortal coil. He Does Not Work and Play Well With Others. But it is unacceptable to the anti-America Left that the USA be the one that does it. The first (and probably last) hyperpower cannot be allowed to succeed swiftly, easily, or twice in a row.

But the case is thin. The only card left to play is the Unilateralism charge. It usually runs along the lines of "you can't go it alone", or "the UN has to approve", mixed with the usual "it's all about the oil".

A moment to consider the word "coalition". There is no lower limit to how many make up a coalition, provided it is more than one. It can be two, or two hundred. Currently, the US has the backing of Australia and the UK, as well as a few others. Now this is, by any definition, a coalition. Is there an accepted lower number before the glorious Peace Crusade accepts that there is "international support"? Is there an accepted number at which point the US can declare "we have a coalition"?

There is a body of little thought that maintains the UN owns the rights to the Seal of Good Warmaking. But which part of the UN? Keep in mind that the question of Iraq has never been put to the General Assembly, so there has not been the required two thirds majority vote. The extant Resolution was passed by the Security Council, which is 15 nations, and they all don't all have to vote. When it comes down to tin tacks, the five Permanent Members run the show. All they need is their own vote, and three others to get a vote up. Is this the lowest number required?

I'm not really sure, but it's unlikely the First Gulf War had anything like unanimous approval. It might just have been an oversight, not getting the green light from Malawi, or failing to acquire the proper approvals from Monaco. Is the 1991 coalition the benchmark for future wars? No-one gets to invade anyone without the approval of the USSR. Oops. Or the Security Council, except that many of the nations that were on the Council then have rotated off.

The fashionable charge against the USA is "unilateralism", or going it alone. Since unilateral action requires the US to act alone, then the support of one country will suffice to end that spectre.
Seriously, the yackety-yack that demands the US build a "coalition", or "seek international support", or whatever internationalist spin is in Reuters today, is designed to do one thing, and one thing only. It is an attempt to get the US to voluntarily limit their own power, by assigning their self-defence to a woolly concept of "consensus building", backed by non-existent "international law". The real punch line is that the UN's biggest fear is that the US will pull out of peacekeeping efforts around the globe. They know that the whole house of cards will fall if that happens.

One of the interesting things this whole debate shows up is the casual racism in the Left protests. They know that the opinions of Sierra Leone matter not a jot in the real world, but in Consensus Land T, why is their opinion worth so much less than, say, Germany's?

Is Stephen Green part of your daily reading? If not, you're missing out.

Steve is writing some of the best, most cogent arguments on why this is a war to the death, for one side or the other. Check today's instalment about why civil libertarians should favour the war:
Let me repeat: I am for this war because I am a civil libertarian.
We cannot negotiate our way to peace with those who demand our destruction. We cannot buy off multimillionaires who live in caves by choice. We cannot appease would-be global God-Emperors. We cannot have an exit strategy when the front lines are in Manhattan. So don’t fool yourself into thinking that there is some sort of wiggle room or Security Council resolution or fancy language that can get us painlessly out of this mess.
The choice is ours: We can give up our lives, or our freedom, or our nation – or the Islamists can go to hell, by way of Daisy Cutter.

Fine stuff, and equally applicable in Sydney.

Tuesday, September 10, 2002

Salman Rushdie represents the best the Left has to offer: talented, erudite, calm, utterly principled. And wrong.

In today's Herald, Rushdie conjures a scenario of rising Arab hatred if the US pounds Iraq. The starting point is the usual charge of unilateralism:
However, during the past year, the Bush Administration has made a string of foreign policy miscalculations and the State Department conference must acknowledge this. After the brief flirtation with consensus-building during the Afghan operation, the brazen return to unilateralism has angered even its natural allies.

Note the use of "brazen", as if the US is somehow the only country not allowed to pursue their own interests. It's not clear who Rushdie want the US to team up with. The Germans have demanded to be consulted, while in the same breath saying they will never ever agree to an attack. Consulted about what precisely? And who are the US's "natural allies". The starting point would be the Anglosphere, which seems to be pretty much behind Bush.

Rushdie is a little confused in his own article at times. Contrast this swipe at the Guardian:
Anti-Americanism can be mere shallow name-calling.

with his own shorthand:
In the year's major crisis zones, the Bushies have been getting things badly wrong.

"Bushies", Salman?

There's some interesting takes on recent history:
A Security Council source says the reason for the lamentable inaction of the UN during the recent Kashmir crisis was that the US (with Russian backing) blocked all attempts by member states to mandate the UN to act.

Nothing to back it up, and bugger-all in the news about it. If there's anything I missed, email away. But the main point is this: …. nothing happened in Kashmir. India and Pakistan went to the wall, armed to their nuclear back teeth and with command-and-control systems that work like a Marx Brothers flick ….. and nothing happened. It was the classic doomsday scenario, and they backed off. There is no evidence whatsoever to suspect the UN would have improved the situation, if it could be improved further than … nothing happening. A successful outcome in Kashmir is denounced as insufficient for no other reason than a lack of UN involvement. Rushdie must have been heartbroken by Kosovo, especially when compared to UN success stories like, say, Lebanon.

Rushdie rightly condemns the disgraceful record of US citizens in supporting the IRA, and the failure (until this Administration) to halt the money flow. He is worried about Hindu extremist violence in India, but seems to be confused about who is responsible:
shadowy bodies across the US are helping to pay for mass murder in India while the US Government turns a blind eye. Again, the supposedly high-principled rhetoric of the "war against terrorism" is being made to look like a smokescreen for a highly selective pursuit of US vendettas. Apparently Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein are terrorists who matter; Hindu fanatics and Kashmiri killers aren't. This double standard makes enemies.

This is a well-worn rhetorical trick: A is bad, B is worse, but you can only deal with both, not one at a time. There is a distinction between the two groups. Osama Bin Laden has exported his mass murder to the US homeland, and any state is entitled to defend itself. Saddam Hussein is a murderous thug who has repeatedly exported his imperial ambition onto his neighbours yard, and is known to be building weapons that can only be used to threaten mass civilian populations. Hindu fanatics and Kashmiri killers, to put it bluntly, stay home. They are not the immediate, or even long range concern, of the US. There is no double standard, unless this is a call to see the US cease any and all aid or support to any and all countries that have home-grown terrorists.

Next is the requisite suicide bombing condemnation:
Of course the suicide bombings are vile

you can hear it coming, can't you?
but, until the US persuades Israel to make a lasting settlement with the Palestinians, anti-US feeling will continue to rise

Here he is assuming there is a solution that will satisfy every Palestinian zealot with a grudge, that does not include the effective annihilation of Israel. Would he support tying a Kashmir solution to the Middle East?

What does Rushdie fear from an attack on Iraq?
the result may well be the creation of that united Islamic force which was bin Laden's dream.
Saudi Arabia would almost certainly feel obliged to expel US forces from its soil (thus capitulating to one of bin Laden's main demands). Iran - which recently fought a long, brutal war against Iraq - would surely support its erstwhile enemy and may even come into the conflict on the Iraqi side.

Saudi supports terrorism, so Rushdie should be pleased the US will stop guaranteeing their survival. Incidentally, US troops are there to protect them against Iraq; eliminate the threat, and the US will leave by itself. My bet is that without the Iraqi external threat, the Saudis will shit themselves when they realise they cannot control their own population. Iran is not going to take sides against the US, who can squash them, to support a Sunni regime that killed a million of their citizens. The increasingly informed Iranian population will not stand for it.

Here's the really interesting quote:
The entire Arab world would be radicalised and destabilised. What a disastrous twist of fate it would be if the feared Islamic jihad were brought into being not by the al-Qaeda gang but by the President of the US and his close advisers.

This points out the yawning gap in Rushdie's arguments: Afghanistan. For reasons known only to himself, Rushdie does not think an article about "the year's major crisis zones" needs to mention Afghanistan.

This most Islamic of Islamic countries was conquered swiftly, at a civilian cost less than half of what the Taliban were executing every month. Is the entire Arab world radicalised? Destabilised? Was the UN behind the regime change?

For a writer who owes his very life to continuing protection by Western liberal states, Rushdie is remarkably silent on the need to rid the world of fanatical theocracies and dictatorships. His own experiences at the hand of right-wing religious assassins does not seem to have left him much sympathy for victims unable to command his level of public protection.

Monday, September 09, 2002

This article by Christopher Hitchens is worth the read, just for this graf reminding us of the true result in Afghanistan:
If you remember, there were also those who warned hysterically of a humanitarian disaster as a result of the bombing: a "silent genocide," as one Boston-area academic termed it. But to the contrary, the people of Afghanistan did not have to endure a winter with only the food and medicine that the primeval Taliban would have furnished them. They survived, and now the population has grown by almost 1.2 million, as refugees from the old, atrocious tyranny make their way home. Here is the first country in history to be bombed out of the Stone Age.

Truly I would not want to be on the bad side of The Rottweiler when he gets a head of steam up. Today he's after the bats who are planning to stake themselves out as human shields to help out Iraq. Italics are the original article:
One of the British volunteers, Matt Barr, 21, a student from Chichester, West Sussex, said: "Obviously, it's unpleasant to consider that you could be killed, but it is important to extend the arm of solidarity and brotherhood to a nation that is suffering - to bear witness to what is happening to the ordinary people."
Unfortunately, it's very limited what you'll be able to say on the two seconds of fame that you'll have on the nose cam of a JDAM. I'm sure you can squeeze in an "Oh Shit!", though.

"Hi Mum! I'm on TV!
I have dedicated the last five years of my life to human rights.
Full points for appropriate use of the phrase "last five years of my life".

But if I had to point to one part of the staggering double standards these twits carry boldly to battle, it is this:
When Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, troops seized about 1,200 expatriate Britons. On Saddam's orders they were placed at key installations as "human shields". Their presence, Saddam reasoned, would deter allied air strikes.
The tactic prompted worldwide revulsion, especially when Saddam was filmed trying to create favourable propaganda by urging a five-year-old boy, Stuart Lockwood, from Worcester, to sit on his knee. The terrified boy refused.
Diplomatic efforts eventually led to the hostages' release, but many have suffered continuing psychological trauma. Two killed themselves.

These fools know this happened. A bloodthirsty dictator launches a war of aggression, entirely to seize the wealth of their neighbours. He takes children hostage, strapping them to his assets in order to protect his seizures. The effect on the hostages in ongoing and horrifying. And this is the regime the "seasoned non-violent activists" are laying their lives down to protect.

Sunday, September 08, 2002

Sunday mornings are a current affairs junkie’s dream turn. From 0800 through to midday, it is possible to hoover coffee while surfing channel after channel of magazine style news shows. Bliss!

One of the success stories has been the ABC Insiders program, which gets through a surprising number of subjects in a short period, without getting too trivial. Very helpful too, their policy of putting the evil right winger journalist on the single armchair, the better to distinguish them in case their opinions are not sufficient.

This morning we had an excellent interview with one-time Prime Ministerial contender, and former Defence Minister Kim Beazley, about the looming war with Iraq.

Say what you want about Beazley’s surprising lack of impact on debate in Australia, there is no taking away from the man’s knowledge of defence and international diplomacy. At no time does he resort to the “slavishly following the Americans” drivel that so riddles his Party. As a former Defence Minister, It would be ludicrous for him to even try it, but it’s obvious that Beazley understands the position the US finds itself in.

Beazley’s only criticisms are reserved for mixed messages out of the US Administration:
I mean, basically over the course of the past 6 months the American administration has presented to the rest of the world divided council, and that as been extremely difficult for allies of the US

And his hopes for a coalition against Iraq:
So the fact that the American President is appearing there [the UN] may indicate that the US is going to involve itself multilaterally in anything it ultimately does about Iraq.

But Beazley’s comments have to be taken with regard to the rest of his interview, which will not please the more addled of his Party:
[Iraq] is a left over from the 1990-1991 Kuwait episode. The situation in Iraq effectively revolves around resolution-687 of the UN passed at that time by which Iraq agreed to have itself disarmed of weapons of mass destruction. Since that point in time despite a sanctions regime which has enjoyed only limited success, that resolution has not been forced, enforced

And then the theme is reinforced:
it is a challenge to the United Nations. The UN Security Council has had carriage of this resolution for a decade now. And since the inspectors were eliminated or moved out of Iraq in 1998 there has been a manifest failure to see it implemented. Now, if those like myself who believe that multilateral action here is what is required, not unilateral action, the challenge for us is to ensure that the United Nations is an effective body, and whilst ever Iraq is not upholding its agreement to resolution-687, then there is a challenge to the effectiveness of the United Nations.

So there’s the message: the UN has had the running on this for ten years, and has been a “manifest failure”, and the Resolution is still in place. Or if you like, “what have you done for me lately?”

And finally this last on an Australian commitment, almost as a throwaway:
So I would very strongly take the view that ground force commitments of that character ought not to be made.

Last time we took on Iraq, Beazley was in power, and decided the level of commitment. Bear in mind that Australia has had command of the naval blockade for some months now. By the looks of this, Beazley is ruling in a commitment of fighting ships, and whatever logistical support we can muster, up to but excluding ground troops.

30 day war, end to end.


Hmmm. Agreement with Robert Corr. Brain … hurting …. must find unmarried reffo … slap around.

But I'll defer to Rob on this, at least on the substantive points. Rob has been pursuing the case of a compensation fracas this last week, and I’ve been watching, as it has made me uneasy on various level. Read Corr’s initial spot here, and follow up here.

One thing this whole sorry affair reflects is the wilful ignorance of a great deal of the coverage on this case. Why is it left to a humour columnist like Richard Glover to inform us that the beatee was not in fact inside a home? Any decent reporter with three neurones to rub together can explain the difference in law between “trespass” and “break & enter”.

So I’m with Robert on this one, except that he fails to assign a measure of guilt or responsibility to the young dickhead who copped the beating. Joshua Fox is an idiot, who almost certainly would have escalated to break & enter, but for the intervention of the publican. Response to a threat is legitimate, deadly or excessive force is not. Fox’s compensation award is ridiculously high, and should be trimmed by at leat half on the basis of contributory negligence. His mother should not get cent one.

Journalism n.
3. The style of writing characteristic of material in newspapers and magazines, consisting of direct presentation of facts or occurrences with little attempt at analysis or interpretation.

You won’t find any of this journalism-type rubbish in Jennifer Hewett’s efforts this weekend.

In what is supposed to be a profile of family policy, and the role of the Prime Minister in driving it, Hewett mercifully flags the reader early on, so you can set your prejudices to “ingrained”.
Find it hard to picture John Howard as the natural ally of women aged under 30? Howard certainly doesn't have any difficulty. No, this Prime Minister is confident that he is finally bypassing his own reputation as hopelessly old-fashioned and instead creating a new agenda relevant to a younger female generation.

This snipe is just the start in 30-odd paragraphs of codswallop that assert with no reference to Howard’s status as the class enemy of women. Here’s some choice picks:
John Howard has jumped the picket fence
· the self-declared hero of women's right to choose
· This image of the Prime Minister is enough to make plenty of women - and men - choke with rage for all sorts of reasons
· the devastating evidence of his real preference for women to stay at home
· gales of cynical laughter break out from mothers all over Australia,
· Forget John Howard, social stick-in-the-mud. Think John Howard, modern man
· See. No hang-ups. But no radical conversion either

I’ll repeat: not once does Hewett bother to establish the claim that Howard has been against working women; it’s just one of those dinner party jokes that everyone knows, but no-one can back up.

It hasn’t occurred to Hewett that perhaps it isn’t Howard that has changed; perhaps the debate has moved on from when her mindset was formed. It's no longer acceptable to sneer at women who have children and choose to stay at home, often at great financial cost. It isn't all right to pretend that equal pay is all there is to a successful population policy.

But even without the debate changing, why doe Hewett have such a problem? After all, if ALP role-model Paul Keating can move on from his 1970 declared position of being anti-working women (and anti-immigrant), seemingly without cost or ridicule, why is even the prospect of such a change in John Howard so ludicrous?

The simple answer for Hewett is that it can’t even be considered. The word she's looking for, but cannot utter, is heresy. The chances that social conservatism might have merit in family policy is anathema to anyone who wants to keep getting invited to the right feminist functions, who doesn’t want to incur the wrath of the witchfinders like the Anne Summers, the Eva Cox’s, the (shudder) Germaine Greers.

Canberra’s a small town, and eventually there will be another ALP government. Hewett has her eye on the main game, and that’s making sure she’s in the running for a fat Office of the Status of Women sinecure. Why let good policy or truth get in the way?

I can’t get a link to a Sydney Morning Herald Review of an SBS program scheduled tonight, called “Muslims”. But here’s the money quote from reviewer Greg Hassall:
A Nigerian lawyer defends Sharia law, claiming Islamic cultures prefer community harmony to individual freedom and that “people have to be allowed to believe what they want to believe”

Fair enough, but what we see here is a patter on oppression against women. Islam hardly has a monopoly on this – institutionalised sexism is a tradition in most cultures. But when you take a secular system of law for granted, such unbending imposition of moral codes seems brutal

“seems brutal”? Bloody well “seems brutal”? Why the qualification? Why not say what you mean Greg; that burying people up to their necks and bashing their brains in with rocks is not part of civilisation as any thinking person would define it today, that the people that would practice such barbarity are cast out until they mend their ways, and that unless and until these practices end, the voice of these animals will not be heard.

“Seems” fair to me.

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