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Name: Antony Loewenstein
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Sunday, October 16, 2005

Western values through terrorism

Mustafa Malik, a Washington journalist, Daily Star, October 7:

"Human rights groups around the world are concerned that the UN resolution calling on governments to punish 'incitement to terrorist acts' will further stifle the voices of the oppressed, especially because the world body has failed to define what terrorism is.

"This resolution has, says Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth, 'made it easy for abusive governments to invoke the resolution to target peaceful political opponents, impose censorship and close mosques, churches and schools.'

"The draft resolution that sought to define terrorism fell through in the UN General Assembly mainly because the United States and Britain opposed clauses that would permit "resistance against occupation" and call for the examination of the "root causes" of terrorism. America and Britain, representing the European Union, apparently were saying that if you have the guns you can not only invade and occupy countries, but should be able to rewrite political science, too."

Australia is also currently engaged in a "terrorism" debate. The Howard government insists that new legislation is necessary to safeguard citizens against the terrorist threat. The details of the proposed laws are extreme and even some Liberals are questioning its severity. The Age's Michelle Grattan rightly argues that the government cannot be trusted on this issue:

"It's easy for critics to argue that opponents of the anti-terrorism laws are exaggerating their misuse. This overlooks history and human nature. This Government's treatment of asylum seekers, and its patent disregard for the rights of [Guantanamo detainees] David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib do not encourage giving it the benefit of the doubt."

An Australian citizen should have the right to openly and strongly oppose government policy. Being against the Howard government's foreign policy is but one of these issues, not least the folly of the Iraq campaign. Who will define what "encouraging someone to fight for the enemy" means?

I was against the Iraq war. I was not therefore supporting Saddam or his regime. I have a sneaking suspicion that the "you're with us or you're with the terrorists" ideology is creeping into Australia. It should be vigorously opposed.

25 Comments:

Blogger joe2 said...

Great post Antony. The failure to define "terrorism" both hear and abroad is scary ,to say the least.

It is appropriate to remember the crackdown on dissent in Melbourne, on a sept 11, before that date became well stuck in every memory.

Scott Parkin has been forgotten by most. Guess we all are asked to be a big cheering party ,while world leaders pretend that they are safeguarding democracy,at any one of their parties.

Thanks for link to Harpers', Mr Fish. Just about to listen ,the editor, on Auntys', "Big Ideas".
Should be a tonic.

Sunday, October 16, 2005 5:06:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

Thanks.
The lack of true debate about these 'anti-terrorism' measures is highly disturbing. We shouldn't trust govt, ever. Or at least be sceptical about everything they say. Govts lie, that's what they do.
Hardly news to many...

Sunday, October 16, 2005 5:10:00 pm  
Blogger Shabadoo said...

Ant, you say you shouldn't trust government, or at least be skeptical of governments, and I suddenly think you've become a reasonable man - we probably Venn diagram on this more than you think.

But then I realize that you only mean don't trust some governments -- you're much more willing to buy whatever spin the likes of say, Hugo Chavez, or the Palestinian "Authority", are selling.

Furthermore, if you're so anti-government, why are you so in favour of the institution and expansion of large transnational quasi-governmental operations, i.e. the United Nations?

Sunday, October 16, 2005 6:11:00 pm  
Blogger leftvegdrunk said...

Sorry, Shab. I missed something here. Can you provide a link for the bit about Chavez?

Sunday, October 16, 2005 6:25:00 pm  
Blogger Shabadoo said...

Here's Ant lauding Chavez and buying his spin:

'Of the top oil producing countries in the world, only one is a democracy with a president who was elected on a platform of using his nation's oil revenue to benefit the poor. The country is Venezuela. The President is Hugo Chavez. Call him "the Anti-Bush."...By buying your gasoline at Citgo, you are contributing to the billions of dollars that Venezuela's democratic government is using to provide health care, literacy and education, and subsidized food for the majority of Venezuelans'.

There are other quotes (including from al-Jazeera, the one big media outfit Ant trusts) as well, but you take my point.

But I'd be very interested to hear Ant's thoughts on this, especially the conflict between not trusting government nad the left's support for transnational, unelected governance. I once heard Christopher Hitchens speak, and he said that you must never trust government, ever, because a government will happily kill you at any time to maintain power.

Sunday, October 16, 2005 7:00:00 pm  
Blogger joe2 said...

Sadly, Antony ,it seems like "the many" have not got it yet.

Anyway,a great site and lurking,daily. Despite the crap you seem to endure.

Sunday, October 16, 2005 7:08:00 pm  
Blogger James Waterton said...

Excellent point, Shab. I'm not really convinced about Antony's anti-government utterances, either.

I fail to see how one can claim to hail from the moderate left and also claim to be anti government, considering that leftists rely on governments to engineer their perfect societies. No wonder they're in a constant state of disappointment.

Sunday, October 16, 2005 7:45:00 pm  
Blogger leftvegdrunk said...

Some leftists, James, rely on workers - the people - not the government. You're painting with the "simple" brush again. Unsurprisingly.

Sunday, October 16, 2005 8:03:00 pm  
Blogger James Waterton said...

Who organises the workers, DBO? Anyway, you're referring to hardcore Marxists, by the sound of it. A confused, dying breed. They're the ones with this idea about workers owning the means of production and the state eventually withering away after the era of the dictatorship of the proletariat.

The vast majority of leftists are generally in favour of more government, not less. Do you deny this, DBO?

Sunday, October 16, 2005 9:49:00 pm  
Blogger Shabadoo said...

Indeed.

Sunday, October 16, 2005 9:58:00 pm  
Blogger Ibrahamav said...

The UN has failed to pass a definition of Terrorism because the Arab nations insist that the Palestinians have the right to do anything to kill Jews in the name of the liberation that the Arab nations themselves refused to grant them.

Do you expect the moral nations to allow that?

Sunday, October 16, 2005 10:20:00 pm  
Blogger Wombat said...

Actually this is not as straightforward as you suggest Ibrahamav.

The United States is also opposed to defitinition of terrorism becasue it woud itrself be incriminate din a big way. Remember, that the US was found guilty of state sponsored terrorism over it's attack on Panama but he Internation Criminal Court.

Needless yo say the US thumbed it's nose at this finding and subsequent damands to pay damages.

Monday, October 17, 2005 12:26:00 am  
Blogger James Waterton said...

No, the International Court of Justice, addamo. And let's face it - it's a court many ignore as a matter of course. Every country in the world realises that national sovereignty trumps the jurisdiction of a court like the ICJ every time.

That's the problem with international law - it doesn't really exist.

Monday, October 17, 2005 12:52:00 am  
Blogger Ibrahamav said...

Indeed, the Islamic nations have banded together to add items that are not terrorism in an attempt to defang the US and allow them free rein to terrorize their own people as they have done since 700 CE.

And James is correct about the ICJ.

Monday, October 17, 2005 1:42:00 am  
Blogger Wombat said...

Correction duly noted James,

I do believe however that the US is truggling with a definititon of terrorism and that the Pentagon's definition differs from the of the State Department fo rhe ver yreason I mentioned. It implicates the US and it's actions.

As for the International Criminal Court, I believe the Bush adminstration unsigned from it recently, because it found it could not have it's cake and east it too.

Also as for your comment "
That's the problem with international law - it doesn't really exist."

This is not so, at least in theory. The US Constitution states that the US is bound by law to any internatinal treaties to which it signs. ie. the Geneva Conventions and the UN Charter. It has obviously transgressed elements of both. But in practice of course, this gets discarded.

Monday, October 17, 2005 2:24:00 am  
Blogger Shabadoo said...

Addamo: The US Constitution states that it is the highest law in the land, that the US Supreme Court is the highest court in the land, and that no treaties can be entered into that contravene or supercede US law ... so in fact the ICJ Treaty would be immediately unconstitutional because it would be putting another legal layer on top, as it were.

Monday, October 17, 2005 8:33:00 am  
Blogger Wombat said...

yes I believe that is the case fo the ICJ, but I have seen no evidence this applies to the Geneva Conventions or the UN Charter.

Monday, October 17, 2005 8:44:00 am  
Blogger leftvegdrunk said...

James - to backtrack a little. Not more government, but better and fairer government.

Dying breed? If you say so. Time will tell, as it is in the factories of Argentina and the picking fields of California, for starters.

Monday, October 17, 2005 1:18:00 pm  
Blogger Human said...

Moral Nations? Name one.

Monday, October 17, 2005 2:11:00 pm  
Blogger James Waterton said...

DBO:

Are we talking in theory or practice? Experience has comprehensively shown the latter. I don't know of a single socialist regime that has maintained a "small government". Socialism is a weed - when it spreads through the halls of power it inevitably colonises the entire society until someone kills it off. So do some flavours of conservatism, incidentally.

Monday, October 17, 2005 6:49:00 pm  
Blogger Human said...

Nope. Didn't think anyone could. At least with a straight face anyway. Peace your fellow Human

Tuesday, October 18, 2005 1:35:00 pm  
Blogger Ian Westmore said...

I think the penguins of Antarctica are a reasonable peaceful, law abiding, lot, Human :)

Seriously, I think many of the smaller countries do try to live humanly, especially the poorer ones. Unfortunately, they are often taken advantage of because of it. Being populated by humans they may not always succeed, but they do try.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005 7:24:00 pm  
Blogger Ibrahamav said...

Human said...
Moral Nations? Name one.

Saudi Arabia. They rule by their god's decrees. That is the definition of a moral nation, is it not?

Your morals (which are suspect anyway) are irrelevant for the purposes of this discussion.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005 12:46:00 am  
Blogger Human said...

No that is not the definition. Yes, I guess people who actually promote peace are suspect to you. If my morals are irrelevant why ask and continue to attack me?
All you are is a person filled with such hate for humanity that you are blinded. You are a very sick person. I urge you to get professional help as soon as possible.

Some links to help you http://www.mentalhealth.asn.au/
http://www.mentalhealthvic.org.au
http://www.aasw.asn.au
Peace. Your Fellow Human

Wednesday, October 19, 2005 3:50:00 am  
Blogger James Waterton said...

human : the more I see of you, the stranger you get.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005 9:25:00 pm  

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