Dangerous, foolish and unjust

Late last week the Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ment released a rhetor­i­cal­ly overblown pamphlet—described as a ‘whitepaper’—entitled “Transna­tion­al ter­ror­ism: the threat to Aus­tralia” that argues we are excep­tion­al­ly the tar­get of the envy and hatred of an inter­na­tion­al con­spir­a­cy of mus­lims: bq. They feel threat­ened by our val­ues and the place we take in the world. Our inter­na­tion­al alliances and our robust for­eign pol­i­cy are oppor­tunis­ti­cal­ly invoked in the name of their ‘war’. Our con­spic­u­ous exam­ple of eco­nom­ic and social pros­per­i­ty is deemed a threat to their cause. We hear our val­ues and social fab­ric attacked. (“DFAT”:http://www.dfat.gov.au/publications/terrorism/index.html) This pot-boil­er mas­querad­ing as a for­eign pol­i­cy assess­ment comes from a gov­ern­ment that, like the gov­ern­ments of Britain and the Unit­ed States was appar­ent­ly “misled”:http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2004/07/19/1090089083132.html?oneclick=true—moreso than the major­i­ty of its own citizenry—into believ­ing what it want­ed to believe about its own incom­pe­tent ‘intel­li­gence reports’ in 2002: that Iraq had a weapons capa­bil­i­ty that threat­ened our nation­al secu­ri­ty and was some­how foment­ing this same mus­lim con­spir­a­cy. It is now very ques­tion­able whether the Aus­tralian gov­ern­ment has the cred­i­bil­i­ty to delin­eate this ter­ror­ist threat; or at least whether in the lead-up to an elec­tion this government’s rhetoric should be tak­en at face val­ue, remem­ber­ing its wretched “dissimulation”:http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=1945 over anoth­er ‘for­eign threat’—the ‘Tam­pa’ incident—on the eve of the last elec­tion. There is no doubt, of course, that the threat of ter­ror­ism has increased and that—as the Bali bomb­ing and the con­tin­tu­ing insta­bil­i­ty of regions of Indone­sia, Thai­land and the Philip­pines demonstrate—we live in a region where rela­tions between mus­lim and non-mus­lim pop­u­la­tions are char­ac­ter­ized by inse­cu­ri­ty and vio­lence: a lot of it per­pe­trat­ed by region­al gov­ern­ments. No doubt, too, that many Aus­tralians only part­ly under­stand the caus­es and extent of these threats, to our own secu­ri­ty and to that of our neig­bours.


   A map of the Wall

But it is appalling that the Aus­tralian gov­ern­ment shows so lit­tle com­pre­hen­sion of the roots of the frus­tra­tion and bit­ter­ness of muslims—and non-mus­lims alike—in our own region as well as else­where in the world that it has cho­sen, this week, to join Israel and the Unit­ed States as the “only sig­nif­i­cant opponents”:http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/3911785.stm of a UN Gen­er­al Assem­bly res­o­lu­tion demand­ing that Israel com­ply with the World Court rul­ing on the ille­gal­i­ty of its bar­ri­er in the West Bank. Our excep­tion­al stance on this issue—in which we, in iso­la­tion from almost all of our allies in the ‘West’ includ­ing all of Europe, New Zealand and Cana­da, have unjust­ly reject­ed a care­ful, bal­anced Inte­na­tion­al Court of Jus­tice “ruling”:http://www.icj-cij.org/icjwww/idocket/imwp/imwpframe.htm based on sound legal and human­i­tar­i­an principles—foolishly, and with great dan­ger to our secu­ri­ty, incites the frus­tra­tion and anger of peo­ple like Mukhlas and Amrozi (the Bali bombers). Con­trary to the asser­tions of Mr Downer’s pompous pam­phlet, the ter­ror­ists act­ing on behalf of the mud­dled caus­es of mil­i­tant islam will take no account at all of “our con­spic­u­ous exam­ple of eco­nom­ic and social pros­per­i­ty” when they draw their own con­clu­sions about our “val­ues and social fab­ric”. We will have defined our­selves as an oppor­tune tar­get for their un-hinged, mur­der­ous frus­tra­tion for oth­er, entire­ly unnec­es­sary rea­sons.

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