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Name: Antony Loewenstein
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Thursday, June 09, 2005

The marks around my neck

Tim Dunlop takes aim at that Court Reporter, Gerard Henderson, and his rejection by the Melbourne Age. Poor Gerard can't understand why someone as well connected and unique as himself has been fired by the "Guardian on the Yarra."

Gerard, there are places for people like you. Like working for the Howard government. Oh, hang on a minute...

The brave Sydney Morning Herald continues to publish Gerard, obviously enamoured with his particular take on history. Risk takers, that's what Fairfax wants more of. And they won't be disappointed, if recent columns are anything to go by. In mid May, Gerard explained why America was a champion of democracy. "So much for the mythology that the Bush Administration is dominated by adventurous and unfeeling ideologues", he wrote. But wait, where does Uzbekistan fit into this neat puzzle? Or Pakistan?

Incidentally, during last night's SBS Dateline, General Pervez Musharraf was asked about his country's use of torture. Let's not forget that the autocrat is coming to Australia next week to sign a memorandum of understanding to assist both countries in their "War on Terror." But back to torture:

GEORGE NEGUS: Can I ask you this - I mean I don't know Pakistan's procedure or principles on this - but would he have been tortured by your people when he was in custody here?

GENERAL PERVEZ MUSHARRAF: I wouldn't be able to comment on that. We presume not, but again, I mean - as I see it - leave the torturing aside - are we here to give comfort to terrorists or are we here to extract information? Because he is a part of a terrorist organisation and we should not show much sympathy towards an individual who is a terrorist.

GEORGE NEGUS: Understood, understood.

GENERAL PERVEZ MUSHARRAF: Now when it comes to the methodology, I really don't know what methods they use, but I believe we should not tie the hands of the intelligence operatives in interrogation. That is all that I would like to say. They have to extract information. The key issue is you must get information out of the man.

GEORGE NEGUS: Does that mean, though, that all the human rights rules are out the window... .for the interrogation of suspected terrorists?

GENERAL PERVEZ MUSHARRAF: If you talk idealistically, yes. If you're talking of human rights, what about the human rights of the number of people he's killed and what about the human rights of - he's attacked, he's the mastermind in attacking me - what about my human right?

Pakistan. Torturers. Ally. Friend. Mate.

15 Comments:

Anonymous Guy said...

Anti-terrorism yay, human rights nay... what hypocrisy?

Thursday, June 09, 2005 12:14:00 pm  
Anonymous Guy said...

Anti-terrorism yay, human rights nay... what hypocrisy?

Thursday, June 09, 2005 12:14:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

Got it in one...

Thursday, June 09, 2005 1:48:00 pm  
Anonymous Shabadoo! said...

Venezuela.

Anti-Bush. Lefty cause-celebre. Torturer. Beloved by Ant.

Thursday, June 09, 2005 3:53:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

There are indeed disturbing reports out of Venezuela. And I equally condemn them (though much of the noise around that country is from countries and people who can't accept a govt giving the finger to the US.)
Beloved by me? Hardly. I support many policies of Chavez, but not the use of violence of torture. Full stop.
As ever, whoever the hell you are, ignores the main issue at hand. Presumably you feel comfortable with our allies using torture on "terrorists".
You reap what you sow...

Thursday, June 09, 2005 4:07:00 pm  
Anonymous Shabadoo! said...

Sorry, Ant, I don't condone the use of torture either, but your outrage here appears to be selective...you've written glowingly about Venezuela, urged people to buy Citgo, and this is the first time you've said boo about that country's human rights violations. Basically, your rule seems to be: if the violator is a Bush ally, scream about it from the highest rooftop. If the violator is on your side, ignore it until someone calls you on it and then say "oh, but of course I condemn the use of torture" -- while still supporting other policies/the regime writ large.

Under your logic, you're allowed to side with torturers as long as everyone coos the right phrases: anti-US rhetoric from the mouthpieces of the government, and the magic words "I condemn torture (but...)" from you. But if Bush is allied with a human-rights violator, it's all the excuse you need to huffily sniff your superiority and call him a hypocrite.

Thursday, June 09, 2005 4:39:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

Far from it.
I've regularly written on this blog about human rights abuse in the Middle East, by govts both supported and hated by the US.
There is a major difference, though. Only Bush and his cronies, along with their media cheerleaders, actually think that by talking about democracy and freedom, while ignoring internationally accepted norms, freedom and democracy will simply happen.
They're preaching hypocrites.

Thursday, June 09, 2005 4:58:00 pm  
Anonymous Shabadoo! said...

Wait...so it's the fact that they talk about wanting democracy that bothers you (what would you prefer?)

Again: what's the difference between "anti-terrorism yay, human rights nay" (Bush/Pakistan) and "'provide health care, literacy and education' yay, human rights nay" (Loewenstein/Venezuela)?

The commenter above "got it in one", you say, when he called the Bush/Pakistan deal hypocrisy; explain why he couldn't have said the same thing about you?

Remember, 100% literacy is meaningless if there's no freedom to read and write what you want. Just ask the Cubans.

Thursday, June 09, 2005 5:06:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

Because talking about democracy is meaningless without serious action behind it. Hello, Guantanamo Bay? As more and more people around the world realise that American policy is based on hypocrisy.
Human rights are always important, no matter what country we're discussing. As I've said before, much of the info about Chavez I mistrust, due to the vicious amount of anti-Chavez propaganda in the Western media. HOWEVER, I've read the Amnesty report and fully realise the problems in that country.
I'm no supporter of Castro, don't even go there. I am a supporter of alternative forms of government, democratic socialism, for example. As long as human rights are respected.

Thursday, June 09, 2005 5:41:00 pm  
Anonymous Shabadoo! said...

Absolutely right --- sometimes it takes serious action to bring about democracy. Like sending in the Marines, for example, which is wht they can now vote in Iraq and Afghanistan. (Yes, I know there are problems still, but democracy is a process, not an event). For talk without action, may I direct your attention to Turtle Bay? I know you'll scream about UN-bashing, but for how many years did Saddam flout countless UN resolutions while using the Oil-for-Palaces program as the biggest international lobbying/bribery slush fund in history?

It's emblematic of your own blind spots (I won't go dropping the "H"-bomb, it's too easy and cheapens the word) that you are concerned about anti-Chavez 'propaganda' yet ignore the rampant and reflexive anti-Americanism that is shared by much of the world's press corps. Crikey, there're still people out there who buy the plastic turkey lie, and repeat it ad nauseum. For further proof, look at how gleefully the world press jumped on the weed-on koran story...yet ignore the fact that it's only because of American forebearance that a bunch of jihadis are even given the bloody things in the first place. Some day I'd love to see someone do an expose' of what happens when someone tries to bring a Bible through Saudi customs. You want desecration of a holy book...boy howdy!

I never meant to suggest that you were a supporter of Castro, just that that is where this sort of thinking can lead. I've actually been to Castro's worker's paradise, and while there stayed and ate almost entirely in the homes of average Cubans, and wish that every lefty who romanticises the place could do the same. Might see a fair few less Che t-shirts around...

Thursday, June 09, 2005 6:14:00 pm  
Anonymous Phil said...

I understand now that many rotten boroughs in the US, Christian and conservative, are now banning books that are written by homosexual writers and David Horowitz is leading a pogrom against University professors egged on by the troglodyte right.

Cuba you say? Unfortunately it looks like under Bush America will eventually resemble it's enemies.

Anyway Gerry is emblematic of the unreconstructed right and deserved to be sacked, if only the SMGH did the same.

Thursday, June 09, 2005 6:38:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

Like sending in the Marines to bring democracy? Mmm, the less said the better.
Frankly, the Marines/America havn't brought democracy in Iraq/Afghanistan. Loooong story.
You seem to feel comfortable dissing Muslim sensibility re the Koran. Fundamentally disrespecting other religions is a key issue. Sadly, you're contributing to that...
Finally, the vast majority of the American media, and indeed, Aussie media too, and much of the UK media, is pretty pro-US. Another great myth...

Thursday, June 09, 2005 6:43:00 pm  
Anonymous Shabadoo! said...

Ant, Ant, Ant, my boy, read my words! I'm not dissing Muslim sensitivity to their book -- hey, their religion, their rules, right? I'm just saying that there's a huge double-standard involved. Hell, in the States, someone can drop a crucifix in a jar of piss and get funding for it! Just try doing that with a Koran. Yet no one really seems to care to report when the sensibilities of Jews or Christians are offended by others, including Muslims (I don't remember Bondi Road being flooded with rioting Lubavitchers after this lovely incident of religious tolerance).

Before the Herald canned you, you must have spent a fair bit of time in the newsroom...don't for a minute tell me that 95 per cent of the staff voted against Howard.

In any case, mate, "the less said the better" isn't a response to a criticism, it's a cop-out. Back it up -- how are the media pretty pro-US? (What? They don't all hit Ant's Assignment Desk to take direction?). And saying "loooong story" is another cop-out. But I guess it's too hard to explain all those purple fingers.

Alright, enough of this. After all, I'm nothing but a right-wing ratbag plutocrat -- which can only mean one thing: I've got dinner reservations! Cato, bring the car around!

Thursday, June 09, 2005 6:58:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

I wasn't canned by the Herald. Point one. I left, my choice. My own reasons.
To explain how much of the mainstream media is pro-US is rather hard to explain here. I've written about it, and will expand in much greater depth in my book, certainly in relation to the Middle East.
You're a plutocrat? A few letters different would make you an autocrat. Does that fit better?

Thursday, June 09, 2005 7:20:00 pm  
Anonymous shabadoo! said...

Oh, it's always like this when lovers break up...everyone wants to save face by being the dumper, not the dumpee.

Seriously, though, a few other letters would make me what I truly am -- a democrat, in the classical/John Locke/John Stuart Mill mode. Which means I don't think that the citizenry needs to be told what to do by its political betters, nor have the fruit of its labour taken and redistributed around by force to fill the diktats of what you call 'democratic socialism'. And that a fledgling democracy, even if flawed and brought in by the United States, is preferable to living under the boot-heel of tyranny.

Alright...I'm off. ALLEZ CUISINE!

Thursday, June 09, 2005 7:27:00 pm  

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