Apparently, the rest of the country doesn’t need to vote during the next two and a half years – Gippsland is doing the job for us.
Archive for June, 2008
A question I would like Andrew Bolt to answer – what happens next?
Gerard Baker surveys the state of the war of terror:
We are prevailing in this struggle. We know it. And everywhere: in Afghanistan, in Iraq, and among Muslims around the world, the enemy knows it too.
For a moment, let’s do what Andrew does and overlook all of the mayhem that still exists in Iraq. Let’s overlook the precarious security situation facing officers of the court. Let’s chant the mantra that the surge is working, while overlooking the fact that it is no longer a surge and is in fact a sustained elevation of troop levels that appears to be necessary to hold onto any improvements in stability.
So,we assume (as Andrew does) that our military might and steely resolve has driven back the terrorist threat. Al Qaeda is impotent, the Iraq insurgency is failing. Where do we go from here?
Combating terrorism and bringing liberty to the Middle East involves considerably more than smashing infidels and taking names. Taking military control of a nation such as Iraq might produce a short-term reduction in the violence, but it will also fuel the resentment that underlies insurgent and terrorist movements. The Senlis Council’s research projects have documented this discontent in Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia. Their latest report, “Iraq – Angry Hearts and Angry Minds” proposes a reformulation of Iraq policy that recognises the importance of social and economic initiatives alongside military and security interventions:
The international community must be seen to contribute to improving everyday life, most urgently through the provision of humanitarian aid and the repatriation millions of refugees. Should it not be possible for NGOs to deliver aid, then the military must be empowered to meet that critical human need. International involvement must cease to be associated with aggressive military tactics or oil exploitation but instead with positive action as defined by the Iraqis themselves.
Disenfranchised population groups (e.g. young men) need to be given an outlet to voice their frustrations, and a firm prospect of employment. The need for a ‘job surge’ and capital is fundamental to Iraq’s capacity to build a successful future. Foreign investment should be viewed as a security tool. A ‘job surge’ of sustainable, well-paid jobs, ideally backed by ‘micro-credit’ disbursed by local small to medium enterprises, is a realistic way of kick-starting employment opportunities in the country. The population’s immediate postconflict needs must be met.
Quick Impact Projects should be beneficial and seen to come from the local/national governance structures rather than Private Military Companies or local militias. ‘Microsecurity’ initiatives should be established whereby the macro-level goals of development and employment are applied to both individuals and their communities. Boosting employment through the creation of localised, Iraq-branded ventures will enhance security at both the micro and macro levels.
It’s probably too much for Andrew to read, since he seems to prefer a catchy slogan, but it is what a legitimate examination of a serious global problem requires.
Was Lara Logan, a former swimsuit model, just training for her new job?
The story relates to reports of a “love triangle” in Iraq, which originated in another of Rupert Murdoch’s tabloids, the New York Post. During the same week that the story about her personal life has been widely reported, it was also announced that she would be returning from the Middle East to become the Washington-based “chief foreign affairs correspondent.” Bolt and Blair don’t bother saying anything sensible – just a few quick sniggers about how an unqualified swimsuit model has managed to get herself a Washington post after being caught up in a “sex scandal” with a “terrorist conduit”.
Here are the parts of the story they neglect to mention:
- Logan’s CV includes considerably more than swimsuit modelling – in fact, she has quickly built a reputation as a respected Middle East correspondent.
- Logan has been a vocal critic of the claims that the American media is slanted toward portraying Iraq is being in a worse state than it really is. In fact, Logan has argued the opposite, most recently on The Daily Show last week.
- The story of the “scandal” reported in the Post has been sexed up, as indicated by the contradictions that they completely ignore.
- The “scandal” itself is not new – it was first reported last December, on the conservative Free Republic web site, and was dug up by the Post this week.
- Logan has been the subject of previous smear attempts by conservatives – Michelle Malkin suggested that Logan had used video footage supplied by al Qaeda.
So, a highly respected Iraq correspondent appears on US television arguing that the situation in that country is considerably worse than what Americans see in their media. Within days, details of her personal life, some of which are subject to conflicting reports by other sources, are picked up out of the conservative Internets community and published in the Murdoch press at the same time that the correspondent is “promoted” by CBS to a senior post in Washington. Australian Murdoch pundits then use these claims, capitalising on a link to someone they have previously labelled as a terrorist liaison, in an attempt to undermine the journalist’s credibility – and, along with it, the credibility of her arguments about Iraq and war reporting. Digby sees the same pattern in the way this is being used across the Pacific.
There’s a difference between giving a non-committal answer because you don’t want to tell people where you stand and giving a non-committal answer because you haven’t made your mind up. But as dumb as Andrew Bolt is, he is also manipulative enough to ignore that distinction and play, “What is Kevin hiding from us now?“
A reading of the complete interview on AM shows that Rudd appears to be approaching a complex problem the way he should – get a thorough investigation and expert advice on the issues, then develop a plan and seek feedback. Constructing policy takes time – playing politics doesn’t.