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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