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How do we tell if there was a serious bomb plot?

Tony Phillips has worked as a broadcaster, a freelance journalist and as an academic in politics, history and public policy. His last piece for Webdiary was Is Telstra right this time?

by Tony Phillips

Last week we had the latest terror scare/media frenzy with the uncovering of the "plot" in Britain to blow up multiple airliners over the United States. The lurid story told how, using a technique attempted in the 1990s but not previously on the radar in the post 9/11 media stories, well organised suicide bombers would breach airport security and simultaneously carry out their dreadful mission.

The story fed into all the usual contemporary media tropes of terrorism - Islamic fanatics, home-grown, last people one would suspect, fiendishly organised, orchestrated from the sub-continent, devious use of science etc. It was not implausible and in the context of continual media obsessions and government directed spin it seemed terribly credible. Pitched to any Hollywood producer, high priests of the Military-Industrial-Entertainment Complex, s/he would have bought it in a minute. Goodness knows the story may even be true and we can only wish the police and courts do a good job getting to the bottom of it.

However, in a world where hysteria and hype rule, Western governments can clearly not be trusted to tell the truth, and the accountability mechanisms of Western democracies are compromised, it would be wise to also exercise considerable scepticism. I, for example, having studied Soviet history, constantly worry about three matters in particular with regard to these "terror suspects arrested" stories:

  • the principle reliance for the story on the authorities (who love to play this game of hiding behind being "official sources", or phrases such as "security dictates that’s all I can tell you");
  • the large amount of "evidence" that pads out the stories that is little more than guilt by association or profile;
  • the reliance on information coming from confessions under intense interrogation or torture.

I’m not saying these latest accusations aren’t true but rather we best keep an open mind and distrust any assertions that can’t make their way to conviction under ordinary rules of evidence and court procedure. This goes as much for the arrests in Australia as in Britain. For example I suspect arrests based on Howard’s new terror laws are not worth a cracker.

Apropos of this the Project Censored email list ran an interesting piece by Craig Murray on the 15th August. Murray is a former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, he has a strong commitment to human rights. This got him into trouble when operating a in country steeped in violating human rights but also important to British and US strategic operations in Afghanistan. Overall Murray has a background of experience in foreign affairs and operated with a high security clearance so his voice seems worth hearing.

Some points made by Murray:

"None of the alleged terrorists had made a bomb. None had bought a plane ticket. Many did not even have passports, which given the efficiency of the UK Passport Agency would mean they couldn't be a plane bomber for quite some time.

"In the absence of bombs and airline tickets, and in many cases passports, it could be pretty difficult to convince a jury beyond reasonable doubt that individuals intended to go through with suicide bombings, whatever rash stuff they may have bragged in internet chat rooms.

"What is more, many of those arrested had been under surveillance for over a year - like thousands of other British Muslims. And not just Muslims. Like me. Nothing from that surveillance had indicated the need for early arrests.

"Then an interrogation in Pakistan revealed the details of this amazing plot to blow up multiple planes - which, rather extraordinarily, had not turned up in a year of surveillance. Of course, the interrogators of the Pakistani dictator have their ways of making people sing like canaries. As I witnessed in Uzbekistan, you can get the most extraordinary information this way.

Trouble is it always tends to give the interrogators all they might want, and more, in a desperate effort to stop or avert torture. What it doesn't give is the truth."

Murray also notes that had this been an IRA plot he thinks procedure would have been to continue surveillance so more could be revealed and convictions guaranteed. He suspects political concerns with plummeting popularity intervened. That’s possible, though so are other reasons, including political panic. Incumbent politicians are getting a lot of free kicks from terrorism scares it’s true, but they are also, and perhaps just as disturbingly, quite terrified of carrying the can for an effective attack. Told the details of what was happening a politician was more likely to lose his nerve than a policeman. To my mind it is this panic that explains, even more so regarding Oppositions, politicians’ willingness in the past few years to hand over their citizens freedoms willy-nilly. Such action demonstrates intellectual shallowness and no capacity for leadership but nothing more sinister.

I would like to know more of Murray’s thoughts on the matter as it has developed but his blog and the site where the full article is posted are at time of writing inaccessible. The Project Censored piece, in a slightly amended form, did appear in the Friday 18th August Guardian under the headline The Timing Is Political.

Other Webdiary posters may like to record concrete evidence that has emerged about this latest plot (including the sources of it) or bits of evidence that point the other way, below. That way we can all increase the pressure on media and authorities to be accountable.


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Go figure again

Phil Kendall, I do a lot of figuring all the time, and I read that McGeough article over a week ago. Now, how many millions of women/girls are in Iran? Answer: 30+ million.

As I suggested earlier, to generalise from the experience of a few thousand upper-middle-class women, while ignoring the overall trend of abuses, is staggering willful myopia.

Go figure!

Phil Kendall, thanks for the leg-pull about taunts and insults, everyone needs a good laugh now and again.

As I said, we'll have to agree to disagree on the Bone article. The author presented more than merely a "shred of truth", but you clearly aren't interested.

As to your charge of "gushing" - GUSHING? - "on behalf of the poor, downtrodden Iraqi women who, when they get the chance get a surreptitious nose-job." That you'd generalise so thoughtlessly and ignorantly from a small section of an overall oppressed group. That you regard concerned advocacy for such an oppressed group as "a deplorable tendency in WD". This is quite staggering, Phil.

I'm guessing that liberal elements within Iranian society and elsewhere can expect no support from enlightened souls like Phil Kendall. Go figure!

go do some figuring yourself, Jacob

Q: Hear about the constipated mathematician?

A: He worked it out with a pencil.

I did read the R2A, just to eliminate the possibility that it held any worthwhile illumination. It didn't.

So now, Jacob I'll refer you to an article; come back when you've read it... Dum, de dum, dum, dumb... back yet? Ohhh - you didn't even go?

OK, here's a quote: (bring on the revolution!)

Another army of women is bandaged and bruised. There is no regime choreography, but they wear their wounds with much the same badge-of-honour determination.
Numbering thousands, they emerge from the waiting rooms of Tehran's plastic surgeons and rush to their favourite coffee shops to show off a new symbol of Western decadence in Iran: their reshaped noses.
A battery of pirate satellite TV stations run by Iranian exiles in Beverly Hills and the San Fernando Valley bombards their homeland with anti-regime propaganda. Despite claims by the pirates that their calls to action have instigated spontaneous street protests in Tehran, Iranians from all walks of life - the regime, academia, the media and in the streets - tend to dismiss their rallying as the out-of-touch ravings of "armchair" counter-revolutionaries. And while many young Iranians tune in, a good portion of them ignore the propaganda. Instead, they lap up the entertainment that comes through the ether.
The cosmetic surgery craze is a surprise amid the straitlaced fervour of the mullahs. But Bahareh Ahmade, a 22-year-old student, proudly tells the Herald that her new nose was designed from a very up-to-the-minute magazine tear-out of the singer Michael Jackson's nose. Bailed up on the curb in leafy north Tehran, she says: "My life is a bubble - I have absolutely no interest in politics. I study and I worry about getting a job; I hang out in coffee shops, I swim in the pool or go to parties with my friends." Does she watch satellite TV? "Just the movies and the entertainment," she says.

But before they get too far with their TV revolution, perhaps they ort'a check "Stop television unravelling your reality" above.

Hell hath no fury...

Hell hath no fury like a wo/man - err, a person scorned (wasn't me, Gov; I've got at least 10 witnesses to say that they didn't see me there at the time!)

G'day Jacob A Stam re: "Nice planet, shame about the 'sheople.'"

I was in two minds as to whether I'd respond to Jacob's taunts ('necessarily involves some airing', 'need no lectures' and 'enlightened people like you') and insults ('finer minds than yours.')

But then, why should I allow myself to be browbeaten?


Jacob, my objection to the referred-to article [R2A] is that it contains more than just a bit of wicked and deliberate propaganda. As such, the authoress is to be roundly condemned, and no notice taken of her or her article. Oh no, no attention at all - the principle of 'there's no such thing as bad publicity' applies. Not to mention that the propaganda is to soften the sheople up for a possible war on Iran; truly serious, potentially mass-murderous stuff.

I also mentioned that 'good' (actually, bad ) propaganda often has a shred of truth around which to arrange the lies; and so it is with the R2A.

Then (en passant) I must remark on a somewhat deplorable tendency in WD (not practised by the more sane) of gushing, in this case on behalf of the poor, downtrodden Iraqi women (who, when they get the chance - get a surreptitious nose-job. (Cue Costello: "Haw, haw, haw! - Let us prey.") Moving on...

Jacob: "Go figure!" - if you wouldn't mind - if there's to be any future communication from you-to-me, could you please use 'standard English' as defined in the POD, say, as opposed to Webster's or (spit, spit!) US-inspired TiVi-talk? Thanks in advance. Also, noting your "won't be drawn into further discussion," unlike in Iraq, say, the MSM were not toadally® hampered and the wholly disproportionate destruction, mayhem and mass-murders inflicted illegally on Lebanon by the risibly-called IDF were all too easily visible; the MSM had to try to look somehow 'responsible'. Hence your perceived 'bucketing' of Israel (more usually referred to by me as "the US' illegitimate sprog.") But however much Israel "copped a hiding" in the press, it wasn't at all shy about putting its side through Hollywood-style spokespersons, or getting other sympathetic phraseology used by 3rd parties (who really should try much harder for impartiality - like the AusBC, say); see elsewhere for examples since I can't be bothered with this topic anymore.


This brings us to 'sheople.' I define it thusly: a contraction of shame(less) and people[2]. As well as sheople, I have previously wondered about whether one or more deviants 'in here' are doing it for 'the money or the box' (ie love)? Some of the right-whinger apologist/activists' opinions seem so unhinged as to defy any rationalisation - but then the penny dropped, when I found this article[1] over lunch. Fits in nicely with Jacob's TiVi-talk, too.


[1] Stop television unravelling your reality
19 August 2006
Michael Bond
Magazine issue 2565

Feel vulnerable to terrorist attack or nervous about travelling? There's an easy fix, says Michael Bond - switch off the TV.

Depending on who you listen to, it makes you more violent, increases obesity and consumption of tobacco and alcohol, encourages risky sexual behaviour and leads to greater social isolation. If you still aren't convinced of the dangers, try this one: the way television covers current affairs so distorts your sense of reality and the risks you face that you end up living a fantasy life.

You may not realise it, but your ideas of the world and the decisions you make - how to travel, where to live - are heavily influenced by what you see on news programmes. Since they are a poor reflection of what's going on, you end up making poor judgements. People running governments are no exception: they pass policies based on false realities. This is not a neo-Luddite manifesto: there's plenty of research to back it up. First, though, why pick on ...

[NS/subscription req.]


[2] There has been some discussion, as to whether it's 'sheeple' or 'sheople'. I think 'sheeple' didn't quite 'cut it'; the dominant image is of a harmless woolly-Dodo wandering (relatively) aimlessly along, perhaps in conscious search of feed or wardah® or simply at random, with a string of compliant others peacefully plodding along after; so many or so often that they wear a narrow little path for themselves across the field.

On the other hand, 'sheople' could be a contraction of shame(less) and people; shame because of the way that they abuse their intellects (zombie-ing out in front of their TVs), shameless because of knowing exactly what they like (zombie-ing out in front of their TVs) and shame again for thinking that's all there is ("Der - what else is there - except zombie-ing out in front of TV?") Since they're all looking roughly in the one direction ('watching' might be stretching the applied mental effort), they are not exactly plodding along in line - although that's admittedly what they mostly do when they're on their way to vote.

There has been some discussion, as to whether it's arrogant to call any voters either 'sheeple' or 'sheople', mostly from our more rabid right-whinger 'friends' in here. (They think that all 'lefties' are wandering Dodos but (some less than others) are often too precious to say so; but since it's more usually notional 'lefties' (I'm just anti-war, anti-rip-offs) using 'sheeple' or 'sheople', the right-whingers think they might be 'getting the finger' and so they begin to spit, rant and rage.)

I myself have deployed 'sheople'; I do so based on observation, see the TV story described herein and any elsewhere.

Nice planet, shame about the 'sheople'

Well Phil, I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree on the Bone article. To the other points you've raised, just a few random thoughts...

Yeah, the "bad bits" tend to get a good airing, however it's also the case that there are 'progressive' forces in places like Iran, and these often also get an airing, even in the MSM. These progressive forces can be helped by people in the West putting their case - which, however, necessarily involves some airing of the bad bits.

The six-figure civilian losses in the Iraq war/debacle is indeed cause for shame - and war crimes indictments, but I won't hold my breath. About all that, I need no lectures from you. One can only do what one can do.

On that point, I'm still not clear on the solution you're proposing. Is the strategy for enlightened people like you to shame, cajole or otherwise somehow persuade the 'sheople', the slumbering masses, into becoming ... well, people like yourself?

The problem of truth v propaganda has been wrestled with by finer minds than yours, and certainly than mine. Yet we're still where we're at. The MSM is indeed culpable to varying degrees in promoting certain elite agendas.

But consider also that in the recent Israel-Hezbollah war in Lebanon, Israel copped a hiding in much of the media, 'allegedly' some deserved and some not. And this from an allegedly pro-Zionist-dominated MSM? Go figure! Just a thought, mind, but I won't be drawn into further discussion with anyone on the Israel/Arab thing at this time.

Oh, and yes, the Howard "human shredding machine" episode. Sadly no one seems to care, apart from you, me and relatively few others. Besides the fact that he's been needed by the nation on an ongoing basis to keep interest rates low, Our Fearless Leader has a whole repertoire of 'outs', as you well know - national interest, fog of war, intelligence 'failures', Weberian dilemmas, etc. etc. etc. He will never be nailed on that.

Give you a break, Phil? No worries, you can always skip to the next comment if you find my humble opinion too much to bear.


They say gentleness is one of the fruits of the spirit, Hamish. It's a pity - I've been trying to be hard-boiled and cutting. Who would have thought my true nature would shine through? On the fear of freedom I'm reminded of what Dostoyevsky said: Men don't want freedom. If you gave it to them they'd throw it back in your face.

lying propaganda[1]

G'day Jacob. I needed only to go on your own sample; anyone including 'the wearing of burkas' being forced 'on the West' toadally® disqualifies their piece as serious commentary.

Further from Bone: "You know, before you get there, that at the Melbourne Writers Festival starting this weekend the principal hate figures are going to be Bush and John Howard. You know there will be many sympathetic references to David Hicks but probably none to Ashraf Kolhari, ..."

Note the Luntzian frame-setting: "the principal hate figures..."

What we have here once again, is the demonisation of the next putative 'enemy,' by fair means or foul - and especially, with GWBush&Co, by foul, with the rags from Murdoch in full foul cry.

Specifically, like what's-his-name's hanging of teenage boys from cranes we have the bad bits being forced down our necks by a) the thieving war-crazies and b) the corrupt MSM. They 'rev the sheople up', till the sheople too start baying[2] for, whether A-rab's or Muslim's if not both, but certainly oily blood. 10s if not 100s of 1000s have been 'pink-misted' for Iraq's oil (well over a 1,000,000 dead if you include the 90's sanctions), how many will it be for Iran's bloody oil?

Then the military steps up - acting on ostensible 'LEGAL' orders (Cue Costello: "Haw, haw, haw! - Let us prey.") - and the thieving slaughter begins. Mass-murder for spoil, next possibly in Iran, following Howard's "human shredding" in Iraq job (read all about the state of play there here, SMH/McGeough Aug 26-27 News Review pp29 "Mission failed.")

Like I said earlier today, 'good' (actually bad, of course) propaganda will contain a 'grain' of truth as a 'hook' for the lies. What they are showing is (alleged? - see 'human shredding') atrocities - it may well be that 'Muslim sisters need our help' - but not via bullets and bombs.

As they say in the flicks, Jacob, gimme a break - please.



[1] propaganda n. 1 organized propagation of a doctrine by use of publicity, selected information, etc. 2 usu. derog. ideas etc. so propagated. propagandist n. & adj. propagandize v. (also -ise) (-zing or -sing). [Latin: related to *propagate]

[2] bay5 —v. bark or howl loudly and plaintively. —n. sound of this, esp. of hounds in close pursuit.  at bay cornered, unable to escape. keep at bay hold off (a pursuer). [French bayer to bark]

[3] Mission failed:

THE plans are a state secret, so just where Starbucks and Krispy Kreme doughnuts will be is a mystery. But as the concrete hulks of a 21-building complex rise from the ashes of Saddam Hussein's Baghdad, Washington is sending a clear message to Iraqis: "We're here to stay."

It's being built in the Middle East. But "George W.'s palace", as Iraqis have dubbed the new US embassy, is designed as a suburb of Washington.

An army of more than 3500 diplomatic and support staff will have a sports centre, beauty parlour and swimming pool. Six residential blocks each will contain more than 600 apartments. The prime 25 hectares were a steal - actually a gift from the Iraqi Government. And if the five metre-thick perimeter wall doesn't keep the Iraqis at bay, then the built-in surface-to-air missile station should.

Guarded by a dozen gangly construction cranes, the site in the heart of the Green Zone is floodlit by night and is so removed from Iraqi reality that its entire construction force is foreign.

After almost four years, the Americans still can't turn on the lights for Iraqis, but that won't be a problem for the embassy staffers. The toilets are the same: they will always flush on command. All services for the biggest embassy in the world will be self-contained and operate independently from the rattle-trap utilities of Baghdad.

Missing link (from 'border into bizarre?' above): SMH/Coultan Aug 26/27 News pp19: "The terrorism theory Bush refuses to hear".

Thanks Ian, G'day Phil

Thanks Ian for providing the link to Pamela Bone's article, which I'd intended to do but obviously overlooked (have to try not to do more than 2 or 3 things at once in future).

G'day Phil. Nah, no leg-pull intended, I was being quite serious.

I'm perplexed that you identify Bone's line about "our granddaughters wearing burkas" as being the "central concern" of the article. Did you actually read the piece? For instance, tell me: Who is Homa Arjomand?

The "central concern" I took from Bone's piece was that Western intellectuals have by and large failed to speak out for the rights of oppressed groups, particularly women, in countries such as Iran. Moreover, that there's a worrying trend to ignoring or even excusing egregious abuses due to the overlap of the interests of critics of the West, in particular the USA, with the interests of the leadership, say, of Iran.

As I said, readers of Bone's piece may agree or disagree with certain angles. I, for one, don't believe "our granddaughters" will ever be forced to wear burkas, simply because people in the free West will never tolerate the affront to human dignity.

Having said that, I can certainly see Bone's point. Any accommodation of fascism or medievalism by Western culture is the beginning of the end of the freedoms we cherish as a culture. Maybe Bone's "burkas on granddaughters" line tends to alarmist rhetoric, maybe not. I can see the argument for the former, but this argument misses the point.

Phil, I share your concern about the war drums beating not too distantly, and I echo your plea of "stop the killings / no war". That extends to stopping the killings of people such as Ashraf Kolhari and Atefah Sahaaleh.

I only ask that we can be grownups and countenance a more nuanced view of the bigger picture, where the rights of oppressed groups can be defended, while not supporting the pronounced fascist/medieval tendencies of certain governments, and while also saying "No" to another choreographed slaughterfest. That makes the challenge more difficult, of course, but surely not insurmountable.

Incidentally, your own colourful and incendiary rhetoric begins to resemble that of another frequent commenter hereabouts. I reject, in particular, your characterisation of Bone as a purveyor of foul, depraved propaganda. Still, I guess it's your right.

Crossing the border into bizarre?


So feel free to disagree with a subtle nuance here or there in the above piece - Bone would expect no less of you, I reckon - but there's no denying the central concern of which she so passionately writes. Is there?

G'day Jacob.

Q: "there's no denying ... Is there?"

A: Depends.


if fighting to prevent the possibility that my granddaughters - our granddaughters - will one day be forced to wear a burka makes me right-wing, then right-wing is the label I'll have to wear.

Jacob, if Bone's "central concern" is the threat of anyone here being "forced to wear a burka", where 'here' means the current 'Anglo Axis of Evil' (AAoE) aka the US, UK and Aus, then (IMHO!) Bone (and you?) have truly crossed the border into the bizarre.

The propaganda thread (threat?) behind this particular bit of idiocy is that some Muslims somewhere (actually, à la GWBush&Co; Rove, Luntz et al. it's all Muslims everywhere) wanna establish a so-called 'Caliphate', an' that world-wide, with forced adoption of Sharia law - or some such, including the above 'burka wearing'.

My summation of this particular foul bit of propaganda is: pure and unadulterated bullshit. The idea is toadally beyond 'ludicrous' (adj. absurd, ridiculous, laughable [POD]) - and completely insane with it. The sole objective of this foul propaganda is to scare the sheople so that those sheople don't notice the mass-murderously thieving crimes being perpetrated 'in their name.'

It is a measure of the intellectual bankruptcy and utter depravity of the authors of this sort'a propaganda, and similarly a measure of the utter depravity (along with complete ignorance, and dereliction of all democratic duty) of any audience who might swallow it - but what of any 'activist/apologist/agent' who tries to push this filthy bullshit further?

Sorry, Jacob, but if you believe any of that sort'a stuff, then (IMHO!) there's not much hope of you ever recognising the 'shining light of truth,' even if it came up and bit you. ("Subtle nuance?" Cue Costello: "Haw, haw, haw! - Let us prey.")

Unless, of course, you were being just that slight bit sarcastic; trying to perpetrate a bit of a leg-pull, eh Jacob?


PS See SMH/Coultan Aug 26/27 News pp19: "The terrorism theory Bush refuses to hear"

His project [Pape's Dying to Win], studying suicide terrorism, was partly funded by an arm of the Pentagon. So is anybody in the White House listening to him? Apparently not, if you listen to George Bush's frequent speeches about the "war on terror".
Although the US President recently had a small epiphany about foreign policy - no more cowboy statements like "Wanted dead or alive" - he has not changed his rhetoric when it comes to the "war on terror". Mr Bush speaks in terms of good versus evil, says that the terrorists hate us because of who we are, and that in waging the war we are defending freedom.

GWoT fallacy: "They hate us for our freedoms!" I've said it before: they hate us for our (i.e. the AAoE) rip-offs and outright mass-murderous thefts. There may be some (minor!) religious component, and there are certainly some rabid religious types running around (on both 'sides!' - even fascist ones, also on both 'sides!'; 'good' propaganda will contain a 'grain' of truth as a 'hook' for the lies), but as Pape tries to show (IMHO convincingly), the main-driver is massive, invasive and thieving injustice often including murderous force. Anything that does not acknowledge truth, and in the current context these specific truths, is in the first instance propaganda designed to deceive and therefore, in the 2nd instance by definition, lies.

What is required is all 'pushed-paradigm propaganda' blinkers off and consider what is actually happening 'out there' in the real world. For example, it may well have been that bin Laden (with or without al-Qaeda; who cares?) really was behind "9/11" and his motive was to eject the US from Saudi Arabia. Voila! It was done; the US is (even if only incompletely on its way) out of Saudi Arabia. In which case, bin Laden 'won'.

Right-whinger fallacy: "If you're not pro-A, you must be pro all anti-A." I've said this before too: this is boorishly false, requires no answer except utter condemnation of any right-whinger who 'plays' this filthy false-logic ploy.

In the light of these two fallacies, consider Ian MacDougall's:

The left-right divide is becoming increasingly irrelevant these days, in no small part due to the fact that so many people on what is commonly regarded as the Left come out in street demonstrations along with supporters of Hezbollah, the Iraqi “resistance” and kindred political formations, of extreme social conservatism.

I personally wish most fervently for a) a "Fair go, ya mugs," b) stop the killing and c) "NO WAR!"

(Partially) because the illegal invasion of Iraq war was 'brought to us' by B, B & H, I'm anti-them. (Partially) because the rip-offs and mass-murderous thefts are being perpetrated most horribly by the US and its illegitimate sprog Israel, I'm anti-them. Most certainly, these last two (the US and Israel; the US for oil and Israel for land, wardah) are responsible for the worst atrocities possible, i.e. hideous mass-murder for spoil, so I'm especially anti-them. BUT: all this does not mean that I'm pro all anti-them. I might find myself in the same demo f'rinstance, even sharing some 'common cause' - but it does not mean that I 'support' any, let alone all, of the anti-thems. Geddit yet?

Might as well end on another reiteration 'high-point': Fair go, ya mugs, stop the thieving and mass-murderous killing; NO WAR!

Centralised politics, economics & religion

The left-right divide is becoming increasingly irrelevant these days, in no small part due to the fact that so many people on what is commonly regarded as The Left come out in street demonstrations along with supporters of Hezbollah, the Iraqi “resistance” and kindred political formations, of extreme social conservatism. Though the majority of Muslims would probably qualify as ‘anti-imperialist’ in traditional left terminology, they do not at the same time espouse liberalism. We know where the vociferous and street-inclined Muslims are on cartoon depictions of The Prophet, but where are they on individual rights in the Islamic world, particularly in Iran, Egypt, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Lebanon and Syria? The Taliban-JI-al Quaeda-Wahabbist ideal of a caliphate governing the entire Islamic world with Shia law (to be extended to full world conquest or conversion) is close enough to the vision of the European fascists as to justify the term ‘Islamic fascism’.

But let me emphasise: the fact that there is a fascism based on the Islamic religion does not mean that any Muslim is automatically a fascist.

The Left in Europe, Australia and America opposed the Falklands War, the 1991 Gulf War, the invasion of Afghanistan and the Iraq War, and in doing so found itself joined by some pretty dodgy supporters. Not just blood drenched individuals like General Galtieri of Argentina and Saddam, but their fascist followings. How does one support Argentina against Thatcher without supporting Galtieri? How to oppose the Iraq War without supporting Saddam? How can one square a circle? How many angels dance on the head of a pin?

Unexpectedly, the western Left went into decline after the Vietnam War. In Australia, the traditional Right went into ascension in both major political parties and in the society nationally. Bob Hawke, Paul Keating and John Howard have all been expressions of this. But since September 11, 2001, and particularly on Middle Eastern issues, there has been a steady turnaround. With large Arabic speaking and Muslim populations in European, American and Australian cities, the Left has started to catch a wave of mass support, or at least get a feeling that it is doing so. Witness this article from Ozleft.

The Enlightenment, which began in Europe as a movement against unjustifiable aristocratic privilege, went on to take hold in North America, and has held on there despite the attempts of some pretty dark forces to stamp it out. It was temporarily defeated in Western Europe in the period 1918-39, but rose again to brilliant heights in the post WW2 period, and even began to shine faintly in that corner of European mediaevalism known as the Iberian peninsula, and in the former colonies of Spain and Portugal in the Americas.

Unfortunately, the Left has never seen The Enlightenment as its true, uncompromisable base. What was easily accommodated by left Social Democracy has never sat easily within the agenda of the various sects of the ‘revolutionary’ (communist, Trotskyist etc) Left, mainly because nobody has been able to show how centralised economics can possibly avoid centralised politics. Is it so surprising, therefore, that the ‘anti-imperialist’ partisans of centralised politics and economics should find common cause with the partisans of religious centralisation, and that authoritarians of the radical ‘left’ and the Islamic ‘right’ should find common cause and go marching down city streets chanting the same slogans, with each lot seeing the other as useful allies for the moment?

The Fear of Freedom

Solomon, I've always respected your softness. It's a quality I've never been famous for, but I do hear your reminder of the virtue of civility. My purpose most certainly is to engage rather than head-kick. There is a point, like trying to argue with a Christian evangelist, where it is no longer possible to engage, and I have learned to identify that point to avoid enormous frustration, time-wasting and, well, head-kicking. Nevertheless, I hear your wisdom and if it reminds me to be a bit more civil, then you've done good.

Cheers Michael, Mark and Tony for your thoughtful replies.

I'll take the opportunity to endorse the book you mentioned Tony, Erich Fromm's The Fear of Freedom. Bloody interesting and compelling stuff.

I heard a story about that book which I've never had independently verified. The story was that the US Government (the CIA even, maybe) commissioned Fromm, a famous theoretical psychiatrist, to write a study on how it is that fascism could come about in a social democracy, as it had in Germany. Fromm's conclusion was that social democracy (ie including the USA) had an inherent tendency toward fascism, and that rather than the pendulum that many theoreticians visualise, between Left and Right, say, that social democracy was really a ratchet, remorselessly and inevitably stepping toward the Right over time. According to the story, this report was buried by the US Government, so Fromm rewrote it as, The Fear of Freedom.

Can someone tell me if this story is true, or is it bullshit?

Fromm on freedom

Hi Hamish, I've never heard of that story about Fromm before and it doesn't sound too credible to me. Fromm was one of the Frankfurt school, along with Horkheimer, Adorno (who actually wrote the essay “the authoritarian personality”), Marcuse and Jurgen Habermas. This group was one of the most important in neo-marxist scholarship and they opened up a host of new insights into, and possible praxes to transform, the modern world.



Given that Fromm was analysing the difficulties of being free in a post-enlightenment liberal world, and given his background, I find it hard to believe he would have been researching for the US govt concerning the future of "social democracy", not a term the Americans would be comfortable with. Then again the book was a product of the war period, and was written under Roosevelt, so perhaps the story is more plausible than I think. Overall the American government does fund and work with academics in a much more liberal and constructive manner than in a place like Australia. Here anti-intellectualism normally has the upper hand in both elite and popular culture.

It is however the case that Fromm argues that Fascism (or modern authoritarianism, or totalitarianism) is likely to arise from a flight from the freedoms modern liberal society brings. Anyone who has read my writing on Web diary concerning the rise of the fundamentalisms currently inspiring terrorist acts can see I tend to agree. Transiting to modernity creates stress at both the cultural and psychological level. Thus, for example, the vulnerability of alienated youth from Muslim backgrounds living in the West. Or from Westernized backgrounds in Muslim countries.

However, it is also the case that we have to combat those in our society who would surrender freedom for the sake of security and certainty in the face of even the small threat Al Qaeda is to our civilization. It is their craven willingness to cast aside freedom for promised comfort and security that creates a real threat to our civilization. (If you want a quick check on how far its gone here in Australia check out Julian Burnside's article Of Secret Trials and National Security

Thinking on this I was stimulated to return to the source and can't resist a couple of quotes to whet people's appetites further.


From the intro to Fromm's Fear of Freedom (1942)


"It is the thesis of this book that modern man, freed from the bonds of pre-individualistic society, which simultaneously gave him security and limited him, has not gained freedom in the positive sense of the realization of his individual self; that is, the expression of his intellectual, emotional and sensuous possibilities. Freedom, though it has brought him independence and rationality, has made him isolated, and, thereby, anxious and powerless. This isolation is unbearable and the alternatives he is confronted with are either to escape from the burden of this freedom into new dependencies and submission, or to advance to the full realization of positive freedom which is based on the uniqueness and individuality of man.”

I also note Fromm’s quote from John Dewy as salient today as well

“The serious threat to our democracy is not the existence of foreign totalitarian states. It is the existence within our own personal attitudes and within our own institutions of (the) conditions which have given victory to external authority, discipline, uniformity and dependence upon the Leader in foreign countries. The battleground is also accordingly here – within ourselves and our institutions.”

Apart from Fear of Freedom I would also put in plugs for Adorno’s The Authoritarian Personality, Marcuse’s One Dimensional Man and Hannah Arendt’s fine work The Human Condition. It seems much that was old is new again.

Good read

My thanks to Hamish for another fresh breeze of reason. Always a pleasure to read you, me ol' namesake.

Apropos of one of the themes that have emerged here, I recommend the column in today's The Australian by Pamela Bone. Of which, a brief extract (not even the best bits, but for brevity's sake):

To say Bush is not the wise statesman the world needs is a large understatement. Of course women are entitled to oppose US foreign policy or to consider Israel's response to Hezbollah attacks disproportionate. Yes, the prolonged detention of Hicks without trial goes against standards of democracy. Yes, we must be vigilant, in fighting the war on terrorism, that we do not lose sight of the values we are supposedly protecting. Of course we must criticise our own.

But when we criticise only our own, when we talk only about the present and past crimes of Western societies, doesn't this give comfort and encouragement to the suicide bombers? ...

Most of us 1970s feminists are grandmothers now. Lifelong socialist and humanist that I am, if fighting to prevent the possibility that my granddaughters - our granddaughters - will one day be forced to wear a burka makes me right-wing, then right-wing is the label I'll have to wear.

Nah, she ain't no right-winger. Bone supported the Iraq invasion, and while I can disagree strenuously with her on that, she is one of the few, left or right, for whom I will always respectfully hear out her case.

So feel free to disagree with a subtle nuance here or there in the above piece - Bone would expect no less of you, I reckon - but there's no denying the central concern of which she so passionately writes. Is there?

Pamela Bone link

Apropos of Jacob’s comment, the full link to Pamela Bone’s article in The Australian is here. Well worth reading, as is the case with everything she writes.


I think perhaps I was simply having a bad morning, Hamish. I think you should talk as you like, and, in the latter part of my comment I leant towards the idea that this is the only way forward. I'm a little concerned that Webdiary seems directionless now, it doesn't seem to know what it is here for anymore, or seem to be going anywhere.

When I say "purposeless self-expression" I didn't mean that your comments were devoid of content – clearly they aren't – but that if you set out to head-kick, rather than to engage, then it isn't going to achieve anything. I think perhaps I was shocked at the realisation of how much Webdiary has changed. There used to be a strong movement towards "civility", and to achieving something more than the usually slanging match that goes on between opposing groups. If you're just now going to "let her rip", then what happens to the old ideals? However, as I said before, it would seem to me that there really isn't any other way forward. I think we're beyond niceties now. The moment has been lost.

Don't write off Webdiary just yet

I reckon Hamish has every right to be angry. I am. The hard Right has been getting very well organised now since the Nixon years and well and truly left, the Left behind. They are better funded in the US and I think they vowed never to allow one of their own to go down like Tricky Dickie did, ever again. Their tentacles have spread everywhere throughout the world. Under Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, the conditions were created for them to become truly global and corporatised.

This numbers game of who has killed more is just that, only numbers. Although I may not have agreed with, say, the IRA's methods, the British establishment was utterly ruthless. In fact, the IRA have shown that a small group of determined men can eventually win no matter what you call them – “terrorists, freedom fighters etc".


I still like you, Hamish, though, from memory you were never all that polite. Tell me this isn't another sign of Webdiary's ongoing deterioration. Is it not a "professional" organisation anymore? What happened to engagement across conflicting groups, rather than purposeless self-expression? Don't answer that. I know what happened, it died of inertia.

I read today that Beazley has taken a "swipe" at Keating, over his decisions on interest rates. Perhaps now, after everything else the non-Howard world has tried, ever-increasing honesty might be the only path left to us.

Replies to Solomon and Mark

I have a viewpoint, Solomon. Do you think I should repress it for the sake of something? I reject "purposeless self-expression," but if you think my comments are that devoid of content I guess we have nothing to discuss. You certainly didn't introduce any new content yourself.

Meanwhile, I like you too, mate. I have however developed a pet hate of the cry (Geoff) of "this will be the death of Webdiary" every time something offends. I know you didn't exactly say that. I'm just drawing your attention to something which I'd like you to be conscious of. From my point of view this phenomenon has been more damaging to Webdiary than any of the charges made against it.

Webdiary is here. I'm madly moderating comments of a great range of viewpoints, without Margo, without a professional staff, and sticking to WD ethics and editorial policy. If now me moving into my own style and pace (mate, you should have seen my stuff ten years ago) is going to destroy Webdiary, then so be it. I for one don't believe it. But what do you suggest? Should I pull out of Webdiary or go back to being a tentative one-comment-a-monther?

Mark, thank you for a bloody well-considered answer. I don't accept your charge of hypocrisy however. I can absolutely accept that in a free and fair election the Palestinian people voted for Hamas and hence Hamas is their legitimate government, without supporting Hamas. I'm strangely reminded of the horrible crap that Margo copped after the last Federal election where Howardites were essentially saying that because Howard won his opposition should now shut up. I didn't accept that, I will NEVER accept that I now somehow have to support Hamas, elected or not, who actually make Howard look like a really sweet, decent bloke. I am looking at Fatah or maybe other forces in Palestine if I am going to support any politics there at all. Democracies are supposed to have oppositions, so I don't feel I should apologise for that.

I just don't know, but I am very open to arguments that Israel was ludicrously heavy handed in its response to Hezbollah, and in Palestine. The Wall, in my view, is a stupid crime and politically ridiculous. Israel is so militarily dominant now (unlike in its inception when its military culture was formed) that I think there is a very strong case to say that peace will never come about unless Israel learns to use tactical military restraint, even to the extent of taking some casualties without retaliation. I'm also aware of what a huge call that is, and that it would take some extraordinary leadership. On some days I still find some hope in my heart, but not every day.

Passion with a limit

Hey Hamish, I like the passion, when it's attached to an argument. It definitely makes the argument more engaging. And though I say that as someone who mostly agrees with what you've said on the thread there's still things I'd take issue with you about, but your passion would just push me to muster my arguments more strongly. In other words it's not a passion gone so far as to exclude discussion.

Of course when passion overwhelms to the point where one is just venting ("purposeless self expression"? Not entirely since it must have some therapeutic value for the person venting) the likelihood of producing convincing argument starts to decline, and dialogue and conversation, great and continuing strengths of Webdiary, are difficult to continue. At a certain point in this sort of posting pattern moderators might justifiably reach for their delete buttons. But I think they get the latitude about right, and I say this as someone who would probably be a bigger deleter!

On questions of left and right and Islamofascists. I think left/right distinctions are still useful, if not always applicable. Modernity is a constellation built around particular levels and types of economic and political freedom so I usually conceptualise both policies and parties across two axes, one for political freedom and the other concerning their attitudes regarding the extent of market decision making and property rights.

I've no particular objection to Islamofascist as a term but I prefer to group these types of people, and their perspectives, under fundamentalist or even totalitarian. Properly speaking fascism in its Italian and even Spanish origins is less extreme than Nazism, Leninism-Stalinism or the fundamentalism of certain extreme Muslims. Totalitarianism attempts to eradicate the autonomy of different spheres of life, private, public, political, economic, state, society, and then inculcate its rules and worldview into everyone under its sway. Of course it is therefore armed with a worldview that claims universal validity: we have the truth and the truth will set you free by your bowing down before it.

That said, I'm sure I'm not the only one who finds ironic amusement in noting that those going on most about Islamofascism and such tend to exhibit almost ideal authoritarian personality types. Strong support for the authorities, macho posturing in their language, views of the world very much in black and white, good versus evil, dichotomies, lots of accusative use of the pronouns “you” and “they”, and of course ongoing suspicion and distrust of intellectuals (can fear of rootless cosmopolitanism be far behind?)

Talk about fear of freedom. From some postings Erich Fromm, who saw such personality types as building blocks for the Nazi regime, could glean enough material for a whole series of books.

Some Purposeful Self-Expression Please

I don't cry "this will be the death of WD" every time something here offends. If I did that I'd be doing an awful lot of crying.

I just sometimes don't like not being allowed to call a racist, fascist liar a racist, fascist liar, is all. Even while the racist, fascist liar has carte blanche to spew the racist, fascists lies all over the place provided the spewer is "polite" about it. And I particularly don't like being told how I should "engage" in "debate" a racist, fascist liar. To take an extreme example, I would never engage in debate a holocaust denier at their level. Never. But I sure would have plenty to say to him or her.

I don't call that "moderation". Sheltering racists fascists and liars in this way does not seem to me the way the stated objectives of this site can be achieved. In fact I see it withering on the vine because of this policy.

And no, I am not necessarily arguing for a "no moderation" free for all. I have said more than once that there have been occasions when I have been grateful for the policy in the cold light of the dawn.

But it sure does need reform.

Hi Geoff

G'day Geoff. I tried to dig up the last time you emailed us with a complaint. It was about a month ago, but I can't find it so this is from memory. You most certainly did make comment to the effect that it was the thing, or one of the things, that was destroying Webdiary.

It had nothing to do with anyone being called anything. It was because I'd taken one of your italicised quotes of another Webdiarist and, as I regularly do (always have) taken out the quotes, indented it, and taken out the italicisation. I hate blocks of italicisation - it happens to be a fact that they're harder on the eyes and hence people are less likely to read them. It also makes emphasis within the block messier. Anyway, you felt that I'd made it unclear that it wasn't you who said it, and spat your chips. From that point, although I still do my non-italicised indenting, I have changed my lifelong habit of leaving quotes off indented quotes and now keep the quotation marks. You haven't complained since at least.

I ask you to see what a stress that is on us, and I mean it when I say I'm trying to communicate this with respect. It's not just that you complained and expressed that you think something should have been done differently - that is more than your right, and I would expect nothing else. You actually indicated that this was the thing killing Webdiary. Now for a start Webdiary isn't showing any signs of dying right now, but my point is that your grand judgement has an existential effect on those volunteering their time, and quite conceivably is more damaging than any other actual charge you may make. Please mate, I say this with hand extended and warmth in my eyes, can you take this on board?

G'day Hamish

Of course, I take your hand in mine, Hamish. Without a second's hesitation.

And of course I carefully listen to what you have to say. You, David, Craig, Margo, Fiona and all the rest who donate their time to keep this thing running. I wouldn't be here otherwise.

Crying wolf - er, terrorist!

I have come to this late. Lots of laughs from the interpersonal arguments!

Having skimmed through it fairly quickly I’ve lost track of who said what but the suggestion that when a group/committee began discussing something it was more likely to happen amused me greatly. It is my experience that if you want to stop something dead, you get a committee onto it!

I can even provide an example. At a coffee house where long years ago I often sat all night and drank coffee, you can still find the now grey beards, with their walking frames who still mumble on about whatever it was that they were going to do way back then to save the world, between their naps as they dribble into their coffee — or perhaps it is now warm milk!

But to the issue!

Why, if one wanted to blow up something, would one go to all the bother and expense of getting onto an airliner?

From a purely practical point of view, blowing up an airliner away from the airport is really an ineffective option. It kills a relative few. It wouldn’t be more than a few days’ wonder. There is no mess to clean up. There is very little economic effect. Of the total population only a relative few fly.

However, imagine blowing up the airport, well the check in desks and lounge, anyway. Much, much more simple to do. Kill far more people. Leave evidence that could not be quickly cleaned up. Have a far greater economic impact.

The real question is why the belief that it takes a large group of people, lots of money and months of planning if anything really devastating is being planned?

Anything from two to six people, assuming that you intend getting out alive, very little money, nothing that is not readily available, a maximum of three or four weeks organising/planning would be all that is necessary for serious, competent people.

Every time Bush, Blair or Howard has a dip in popularity we have a ‘terrorist plot’ discovered. Of course details cannot be released, and the trial will be in a closed court, because of security issues.

I will believe them genuine anytime the sun rises in the West.

What can I say Hamish ?

There is a common misconception that those on the left or right of the poltical spectrum all travel in unison. l deem myself an aging hippie now much further to the left than I ever was when I was young yet my closest friend is a life long paid up member of the Nationals , thinks John Howard is a twerp yet votes for him and rails against "dole bludgers", much to my chagrin. (I never supported the IRA especially after a friend was killed by the Harrod's bomb).

The reason I see many parallels happening in western governments with fascism-and I accept that Islamic facism is also on the rise, is that as a Jew I have been particularly studying in depth the rise of fascism in Italy and Germany for about 3 years now and I can see that the German people really were unfairly blamed for Hitler's rise for a long time. The main problem-it's though the movement has a life of it's own with the whole of politics moving sharply to the right at an unstoppable pace.

Fifth post

Last post for the day. I reckon I owed you a reply, Michael, because the broadside you originally received was broadly directed, and you don't deserve to feel you were a singled-target. You weren't, as is probably clearer now.

I couldn't agree more that the Left and Right no longer have the homogeneity that they once did. Indeed they are barely useful terms, though I still use them to refer to Parliament (LEFT - Green / Dem / Lab / Lib / Nat / Family First - RIGHT, more-or-less, but there's even plenty of overlap here). It's become a very precarious shorthand. I also like to have friends from very different perspectives. Political affinity groups are great for campaigning, but terrible for an ongoing critical engagement with reality. Over the last ten years I have come to a point where I am simply bored by meetings of people telling each other what they already think. We need to be challenged from the whole spectrum, all the time. It is the basis of my belief in this forum.

And I too am frightened and deeply disturbed by the apparently relentless journey of our society to the Right. Where we may differ is that I see the separation of values and politics that I have been expressing my anger about as part of that journey. We often rail against our leaders for not learning from history. I deeply believe the Left has to learn from its history now, if it is to proceed with any credibility. We're as marginal as hell, and need to dig very, very good trenches if we are to ever make any comeback onto the world stage.

The Critical Role Of The Useful Idiots

I've quoted Tariq Ali here before. He is an elder of the Arab Left. Ignore him if you want for the sake of your reflexive anti-Americanism, but then you can ignore me too. That goes for you too Roslyn, and others. I really am sick of your filthy seperation of your values from your political praxis. Do you believe in equality? Freedom of speech and the press? Gender equality? Freedom of sexuality, religion etc? Now look at who you're supporting. I am apalled. And don't give me the "I'm not defending them" line and then go on to defend them. It's not funny any more. The self-parody is now just horror.

Do you run around defending Howard from things people say about him if they are lies? Is that how you focus your intellectual energy? Obviously not, and nor do I, because I've only got one life and he's not the political force I support. But you do spend enormous energy defending some of the most evil political forces in the World today. I don't even care if you're correct here and there (it's a propaganda war so you no doubt are), but you are so often so wrong, which consistently reveals a very real political bias toward these ugly forces. Believe me, they love you, even whilst they have utter contempt for your values.


Ali describes how the Left delivered Islamic fundamentalism to Iran. These "useful idiots," including Foucault, one of the most incoherent and damaging thinkers ever to grace a toilet seat, got to go home to Paris, London and Berlin. The Iranian lefties were rounded up, imprisoned, tortured and killed. Good one. Do you think we should learn from that Michael, or not?

I know you're not talking to me anymore, Hamish, but for what it is worth, I think this is among the most intelligent stuff I have read, not just on Webdiary, but anywhere, in ages.

And I can understand your despair. Believe me when I say that. I haven't read Tariq Ali since the seventies. I guess I thought I never would again. Not even an article in a newspaper.

But I'll be in Brisbane tomorrow and I'll find the time to buy the book you have mentioned. Obviously such a title would be unavailable at any price around here.

Fascists To The "Left" Fascists To The "Right"

I use the term "Fascist Left" in a similar sense to the way I use "Islamofascist", "Islamist Fascist" etc. To distinguish the fascists from the rest who may bear the tag "Left". I am not saying the "Left" is fascist anymore than I am saying Islam is fascist.

As far as I am concerned, anybody who says anything that infers that Hezbollah, IJ, Hamas suicide murderers and all the rest are "freedom fighters", or just like the "French Resistance" or that Israel is a "Nazi state" or any of that whole filthy mess of "rhetoric" is either a fascist, a fascist apologist, a Quisling or at best an appeaser. I don't care whether they call themselves themselves "Left" or "Right". I make no distinction. Often there is no distinction to make, or if there is, it is irrelevant.

"Left" and "Right" are terms that I only ever use in quotation marks, in any event.

I certainly apologise Geoff Pahoff

If you have been using the term "Islamic Fascism" for ages perhaps it was you who inspired G Bush to take up the term. let's hope he can at least pronounce it correctly from now on.

Oh dear - so now we know. You were once a "leftie" and have reformed. Just like the Neocons. I thought there were many similarities.

I'm pleased to see you agree: "The similarities between now and the thirties is striking. Right down to the treachery, denial and Quisling cowardice of the "pacifists" and "intellectual" "Left"." I do hope you include in the "left" the thousands upon thousands of German Communist Party members who were either murdered by the Nazis or sent to concentration camps for speaking out, along with others who belonged to democratic style parties and Trade Unions, the traditional leftist thinking University Professors who spoke out and had their careers destroyed or were forced to flee the country along with great minds like Albert Einstein - a committed pacifist.

We could also include the various Resistance groups that sprung up in Poland, France and the Netherlands (left leaning countries) risking their lives and their families lives who often suffered dreadful torture when caught and then executed.

I suppose, as it was a Communist country, albeit run by a murderous tyrant, we should also include the millions of ordinary Russians who gave their lives without which we wouldn't have defeated the hard right Nazis.

I don't believe I've encountered a "pacifist" for many years now, since the Vietnam War, just a  lot of people who think the current invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan were a huge mistake - they being in the majority now in the US and indeed, were always in the majority in Australia and the UK before the illegal invasion.

As to "appeasers," this reminds me of a letter I noticed just after the invasion of Iraq written to the SMH by an extremely nice lady I have met but who is a committed Howard supporter. She said simply, "Britain had its Winston in its hour of need, thank God we have our own J Winston Howard." Rather cute I thought if somewhat meaningless as Britain declared war upon Germany after they invaded Poland and re-neged on a promise given to Chamberlain who had vainly tried to prevent a war but was labelled an appeaser for no good reason. With 9/11, we just tagged along in an undeclared invasion of two countries who hadn't harmed us, killing untold thousands of the citizens.

Speaking of denial in the 30's - I wonder if we should include the many in the powerful corporate sector of Great Britain who wholeheartedly agreed with Hitler's methods especially when dealing with troublesome Trade Unions, publicly applauding his efforts in print and ignoring the handful of mainly American journalists who told the real story of Hitler's cruel schemes. Thank God eventually, the greatest US president FDR- labelled a dangerous "leftie" by his upper class social contemporaries for ushering in the greatest social security schemes ever seen on this planet, was never in denial and engineered the US into WW2.

I haven't really taken note of the word appeaser until a few years ago when Iived in the Ryde electorate and one of those glossy pages of electorate news published by the local MP John Winston Howard came through the letter box and contained a double page spread about how he would never sanction a war merely to remove a leader but we could not appease the dreadful Saddam Hussein because - and what followed was the most extraordinary list of an arsenal of deadly germ warfare that could wipe half the civilised world. Howard assured the handful of voters who actually read these annoying leaflets that he had been reliably informed that such things existed by our security forces, The rest is of course, history.

The anti-imperialism of fools

Well Michael, your tits are basically correct as are Geoff's tats.

I'm not that concerned with engaging with Geoff especially as his deliberately obscuritan "Fascist Left" rhetoric (ignoring the reality that fascism came from the right of the parliaments they emerged in and the modern reality of explicitly fascist groups who are unambiguously right and support the parliamentary Right), effectively excludes me from his conversation. I have attempted several times to ask him to take more care with his labelling in the interests of debate but I've given up. His 'Left' experience, I'm guessing, was with a bunch of Trots and he clearly needs some councelling about that, the poor bugger.

But I am very concerned that the lefties here at least get Geoff's (and Mike's and others) core point, which is dead right, so to speak.

The Communist Party of Australia was against its members signing up against Germany until after Operation Barbarossa (it was hence the best thing Hitler could have done for recruitment in Australia). In general the Left's support of the entire Stalinist era, some (still not all!) only becoming disillusioned after the invasion of Hungary in 1956, dismissing the torrent of accounts of brutality and mass-murder as "Western Propaganda" etc etc should be THE major lesson of the Left today. If that lesson ain't been learned guys, just fuck off from me because I am as appalled as I am in deep despair.

I've quoted Tariq Ali here before. He is an elder of the Arab Left. Ignore him if you want for the sake of your reflexive anti-Americanism, but then you can ignore me too. That goes for you too Roslyn, and others. I really am sick of your filthy seperation of your values from your political praxis. Do you believe in equality? Freedom of speech and the press? Gender equality? Freedom of sexuality, religion etc? Now look at who you're supporting. I am apalled. And don't give me the "I'm not defending them?" line and then go on to defend them. It's not funny any more. The self-parody is now just horror.

Do you run around defending Howard from things people say about him if they are lies? Is that how you focus your intellectual energy? Obviously not, and nor do I, because I've only got one life and he's not the political force I support. But you do spend enormous energy defending some of the most evil political forces in the World today. I don't even care if you're correct here and there (it's a propaganda war so you no doubt are), but you are so often so wrong, which consistently reveals a very real political bias toward these ugly forces. Believe me, they love you, even whilst they have utter contempt for your values.

The chapter of Ali I've recommended before, from The Clash of Fundamentalisms - crusades, jihads and modernity, is very aptly titled, "The Anti-Imperialism of Fools." Don't even try to engage with me until you've read it. I mean it. My despair is too profound.

Useful idiots from the Western European left who had arrived to participate in the fateful events were carried away by the fervour and excitement and began to chant the same slogans to demonstrate their solidarity.

Ali describes how the Left delivered Islamic fundamentalism to Iran. These "useful idiots," including Foucault, one of the most incoherent and damaging thinkers ever to grace a toilet seat, got to go home to Paris, London and Berlin. The Iranian lefties were rounded up, imprisoned, tortured and killed. Good one. Do you think we should learn from that Michael, or not?


Incidentally, I'm very happy with the term Islamo-fascism to describe the political force in Iran and elsewhere. It is extremely descriptive of an important and still-emerging political force, whilst clearly and accurately differentiating it from European fascism.

And another post-script. In my life I have actively supported the Zapatistas of southern Mexico for their radical municipalism, internationalism and deep concern for democracy and human rights. They developed in response to NAFTA, whereby America orchestrated a better rip-off of Mexico and Canada. The indiginous of Mexico were hurt the most from that agreement, and they expressed glorious values at the same time as opposing NAFTA. Of all the international forces I've supported, I'd say the Zapatistas best expressed my own political values.

I have also actively supported the people of East Timor (when such was still actively repressed in Australia in deference to relations with Indonesia) and West Papua (still ignored by our government). Their values were not as clear as the Zapatistas, but Indonesia has been an extremely evil imperialist force and as far as I could see these peoples just desired some basic autonomy, a social democracy, and a basic regard for their human rights. I still think Indonesia is one of the most evil regimes in the world, though it has some stiff competition. It is disgusting when Howard and Downer licks their arses. The people of Aceh also deserve our support from this horrible regime.

I actively supported the successful struggle of the BRA in Bougainville, against the PNGDF and then hired mercenaries(!) whose lifeways were being systematically destroyed by a huge mine. Again, I just thought they deserved some basics in the face of a corporation who obviously didn't give a shit about them, and whilst their values again weren't like the Zapatistas, they were simple people who just needed a break. It was also an ecological struggle, which was very important to me.

I actively supported the IRA as well, though I stopped that after the Omagh bombing, which was so ugly and stupid I could no longer see any sense in their methods (apparently this was the 'Real IRA', not the real IRA, but this was a bit too subtle for me, so I just quietly stopped supporting them, especially as the peace process largely orchestrated by Gerry Adams unfolded). Once again, it was not just that I hated what the Brits had done in Ireland (still do), but the IRA did want a social democracy, individual liberty, gender equality etc.

Can anyone see what I'm getting at? I can never ever support Hamas, Hezbollah, the Iranian regime or al Quaeda, whether or not they are the enemy of my enemy. I cannot think of one of my values which they share, and I have a brain rather than an ideology.

Lefties all, this our big test to see if we've learned from the 20th C and are worthy of the struggles of the 21st C. So far we're failing utterly, embarassingly, blitheringly, loudly and arrogantly. Please, please, please think this through.

Killing in the name of...

Hamish: "I actively supported the IRA as well, though I stopped that after the Omagh bombing."

So we have your price then, Hamish. About 1700 dead and 19,000 injured. Anything more than that gets a bit uncomfortable. At current rates, Hamas can continue its murder until the year 2030 before equalling the terrorist group which you've "actively supported".

Of course, you've told us that you can "never ever" support Hamas, among others, because their form of murder and terror doesn't have that edgy mix of social justice and gender equality which you find so attractive. The 45% percent of Palestinians who voted for Hamas in free elections can go fuck themselves because they're focusing on values of which you don't approve.

Thanks to the kidnapping and extra-judicial detention of up to 25 legally elected individuals, including five ministers, Hamas will never get a chance to form a government and move towards legitimacy. In fact the message is clear; the political process is closed to them and they may as well return to their weapons and their murder because they will never have the opportunity that Sinn Fein had and they will never ever have your support.

What was that you were saying about useful idiots?

So Who's Counting?

"So we have your price then, Hamish. About 1700 dead and 19,000 injured. Anything more than that gets a bit uncomfortable. At current rates, Hamas can continue it's murder until the year 2030 before equaling the terrorist group which you've 'actively supported'."

Yes. Another twenty-five years to go before the butcher's bill is even. Provided of course you only count civilians killed by Hamas. Exclude people murdered by IJ, Fatah, Al Aqsa Martys Brigade, Hezbollah, PFLP and any other "previously unknown groups". And then only count people murdered by terrorists in suicide-murder attacks. Exclude those murdered by bombs, guns, knives, rocks, shells, rockets and mortars. Also don't count people murdered by these groups in other countries such as Argentina and Turkey. Then take that figure and compare it with the number of people, including people who were not civilians, killed by another terrorist group in all circumstances everywhere.

As Mark Ross has down here to "prove" some kind of point.

What is that they say about statistics?

I'll lay odds, though, Mark's calculation will be up at WhatReallyHappened and Information Clearing House and all the other usual suspects by the end of the month.

And for all those just itching to post in figures of Palestinians killed and "it's not the number killed, one is too many ..." and so on. I know. I know. Save it please. I've heard it all before. So has everybody else.

It's not me doing the counting.

Which values guide you?

G'day Mark. As I said the Zapatistas best reflected my values, and I ended with my most difficult example, which of course you've gone for, and rightly so.

I'm not going to go on about the historical differences between Ireland and Palestine. I will say that I'm glad that the Irish Republicans found a leader in Gerry Adams who, alongside some decent political thinking from some key Brits (I can bemusedly forgive them for publicly saying, "We won't negotiate with terrorists" while they negotiated with the terrorists, because it seemed to lead to some peace), seem to have gotten things to a much, much better place. Let's hope that both sides of the Israel/Palestine dispute, which is much harder in many ways, can also produce some f'ing brilliant leadership.

I should disclose, at clear risk of opening up more cans, that rhetorically I also supported the PLO at the time I supported the IRA. At that time it had recognised Israel's existence and was (still is if anyone can find it) a secular force. Its political wing is Fatah, in my understanding. A good friend of mine whose analysis I respect reckons it was Israel bodgilly trying to split the PLO which created Hamas, a far nastier monster, in the first place. Others may wish to confirm or deny this theory.

Back to Hamas. To the extent that I think Republican voters in the USA can "go fuck themselves" and that Howard voters in Australia can "go fuck themselves" (I'm sticking to your delicate political terminology), yep, I reckon the Palestinians in Palestine who voted for Hamas can "go fuck themselves." I would have been one of the many who voted for Fatah, as usual merely the better of evils, but a secular force whose policy is a two state solution. I hope this opposition survives the Islamic Hamas Government so it can have another chance. The Palestinians voted for perpetual war, quite literally. It was explicit on both sides. I hope they get another election and vote for a peace process next time.

I reject your rhetoric of, "their form of murder and terror doesn't have that edgy mix of social justice and gender equality which you find so attractive," for my own which is that Hamas express none of my values. None. Which of your values do they express? Would you have voted for them, or would you have voted for another political party? Nobody is questioning the horror of violence, and if you like we can be very pure and simply support nobody, anywhere. But what is your basis for supporting Hamas? Which are the policies or practices which you find laudable? You've mocked my values of "social justice and gender equality," which is worrying. Which values guide you? Non-violence? Um...

I support dialogue

Hamish, you asked:

Which of your values do they express? Would you have voted for them, or would you have voted for another political party?

Though I always enjoy seeing a bully get a bloody nose, that would not be enough for me to throw vote for Hamas. I doubt they reflect any of my values with the exception of their social and charitable works within Palestine. It wouldn't take much to convince me that these works were less altruistic and more a means towards political support but, hey, so are tax cuts! If I had to cast a vote, it would have been for The Third Way. Having said that, trying to find shared values with a political party is like trying to find true love in a brothel.

You also asked about my basis for supporting Hamas. Well, my support goes to the people of Palestine and the principles of self determination.

In an election that was characterised as "extremely professional, in line with international standards, free, transparent and without violence" by the European Parliaments' monitoring team, 45% of the Palestinian people opted for Hamas. Just, as you point out, similar numbers opted for John Howard and George W Bush elsewhere. As much as I wish a different decision had been made in these three cases, I have to live with the present reality. To arbitrarily decided not to accept the free and transparent expression of self determination of a group of people because we don't like their choices, whilst we joyously spruik the philosophy of bringing democracy to the tinted ones, is an hypocrisy of the first division.

Sure, Hamas are radical dickheads. The important point is that they are now radical dickheads who, by participating in the political process, are making themselves open to moderating influences. In a political compromise to form government with Fatah they even started making noises about recognising Israel and working towards a two state solution. Not much, but something to work from. A bit of real dialogue at this point might have gone places. But that wasn't what we offered. We thought it would be far better to cut their funding, isolate them politically, start in on the executions, abductions and imprisonments and make sure that they were never ever supported. To do otherwise would have been appeasement. Just like we appeased the IRA, Falantil, the ANC and Irgun.

Having been denied the political road, do you really believe Hamas won't be inclined to run back to their weapons with renewed vigour? Wouldn't it have been easier to swallow some pride, relax our double standards and use more carrot than stick? No, I suppose it wouldn't. Our intellectual parlour games and fear of repeating the past are far more important than mopping up the blood and guts.


Hamish! We don;t see you for ages and then you are reborn as Angry Anderson without the Anderson! Is it the dark season, need some UV therapy - I missed mine due to a little invasion recently so have been suitably pineally deprived and furious about various international actions without any accountability for the perpetrators. At least that must be the reason, it can't be because such actions are outrageously illegal and savage and warcrimes because otherwise our leaders would condemn them, wouldn't they?

What you blast all about is absolutely correct and I have long talked of such but still been pidgeoned away by the PR spin minions so as to discount the message. What we see around us, what is right and wrong, all is not determined by what football team, or religion or political persuasion one holds dear... what is right and wrong, despite the perversion of post modernism, is clear to us all and should be spoken about without fear and favour.

All the same Hamish, it is a little disappointing to see you apply the same logic to arguments of others that certain obvious neocon slavish admirers do. If one criticises the enemies of Hamas, Iran, Hezbollah, it does not mean one is a supporter of their ideals or views, but rather there are deeds that cannot be supported even when done by our"allies".

The UN universal declaration of human rights - how about linking it and writing of it Hamish, you have the passion and a talent there I have not in expression - is sonething all regimes should be aiming for, BUT ESPECIALLY OUR OWN AND OUR ALLIES. Especially when we use the failure of such as an excuse to bomb, destroy and invade.

The current hypocrisy that stinks in this world is not from Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, who have laws and tend to follow them, even if we disagree with them and find them failing the declaration targets. The current stink is from the US/UK/ISrael/Australia regimes who profess such attainment of human rights targets themselves, criticise others for failures there and use them as excuses to attack and invade, along with hypocritical lies about weaponry.

Yet we are abject failures. We and our allies have now waged wars of aggression based upon conspiracies of lies, we have laid waste three countries now. We threaten another two. Why? Their human rights and weaponry reputation and behaviour is not worse - in fact better - than our own and certainly other nations in the region. The war whores are bleating their lies and spin to murder again, not satisfied with Iraq and Lebanon and Israel, but again and who here is supporting that?

To use "right" ,"left", "fascism"as terms may be correct labels, but they are irrelevent. Warcrimes, human rights issues and liberty of person and religion are the more accurate and simple terms to consider. We are at a crossroads right now. We are in a fake war of terror, where covert agencies and real terrorist blend together and the spin is used by governments to remove the very liberties and freedoms that make us a target for religious fascism. We are told it is war for generations, a real Eric Blair/Orsonian war without end.

What we really have to decide is whether our human rights and freedoms are what is worth fighting for. Whether one is right wing or left wing, fascism and totalitarianism of Franco, Hitler, Mussolini, Lenin, Stalin, Hirohito, Suharto, Saddam ... are they what we want here in the name of fighting "terrorism"? If yes, then drip by drip the terrorists have won.

We already have much of the needed legislation in place, the ASIO laws, the Anti-sedition laws particularly. We have a compliant media already, an essential part of totalitarianism, and we have a new police force known as the AFP, which is very different from what used to be that in name.

We have participated in illegal invasions, we have supported torture of others and our own and illegal rendition of others and our own. Widespread deception of the nation has occured at the highest level with no one held to account, we know this by Wilkie and the other (military) adviser.

We know there are two public papers "Israel, a Clean Break" and "PNAC" with supporting money and think tanks from the very Neocons in power now. The events of today are described there. There needs to be an urgent open enquiry as to how much of current events are a conspiracy from these groups. Who went where in 1998 is a good place to start.

If anyone thinks that a war against Iran will be a contained regional event they really haven't been paying attention. If anyone thinks this is right wing and left wing they are under an illusion. This is about the manipulation and perversion of information and data to support propaganda and spin that pushes us to war, despite our values otherwise, based upon fear and security and flavoured by ethnocentric racism and dehumanisations of the victims.

It now is are you with us or against us, are you a war whore for a small elite, or for truth and justice and the people of the planet and our fragile environment smashed under tractor treads.

So Hamish, by all means fight the good fight, but what is it really?

And Bob, loved the "some are meant for sweet delight".

It is our duty to expose the dead lipped "dark players" David Kelly warns of, and he is in a position to know - then and now. RIP.


Reply to Angela

G'day Angela. First, yep, I'm not being paid by Webdiary now so I am feeling far more licensed to express my opinions. I don't care if anyone likes me any more, whereas before it seemed important for professional reasons. It's a freedom, frankly. Everyone else here enjoys that freedom and now so do I.

I empathise with your early point that opposing the foreign policy of America or Israel is not necessarilly supporting Islamo-fascism, just as opposing Churchill in the late 30s would not have been necessarilly supporting Hitler, but we have moved into extremely precarious territory where we have to be very careful with our rhetoric.

You then go on to make this statement:

Their human rights and weaponry reputation and behaviour is not worse - in fact better - than our own and certainly other nations in the region.

I certainly can't argue about the military hardware - no question the US and Israel are all over Iran and Hezbolah on that score, which has nothing to do with their morality or even policy. But human rights?

You suggested I link the Declaration of Human Rights. Here ya go. Go through them one at a time. For each one give Iran a score from one to ten, then give Australia (or USA if you like, or even Israel) a score from one to ten.

I'm sorry Angela, but especially in your paragraph explaining that there is no hypocricy in Iran because they, "have laws and tend to follow them," I place your name firmly in the list with Michael and Roslyn as apologists for political horror. Despite Geoff's nomenclatural idiocy however, I know you're not right wing in any sense of the word. I just think you're being kind of stupid so far.

One last thing. Whatever else you say about it, we didn't invade Lebanon Angela, and neither did the USA. Please grow a nuance or two.

I think Angela, even though my eyes roll at a number of your generalisations, that were we to really nut it out we would find we very much agree that Australia is heading in a totalitarian direction under John Howard, certainly as contrary to a liberal direction. That's an enormous concern to me, especially as his opposition in Australia is completely inadequate at this time. But to openly suggest that our human rights are worse, or even comparable, to that of Iran, is just wrong mate. In Iran, you and I would be long dead, and I don't think Webdiary would have had a long life either.

Another point of agreement we'd probably have is that the sooner the US get the f*** out of Iraq, the sooner a course toward sanity in the Middle East might once again become even comprehensible. Iraq of course will still be a political basket case for the next chapter of its existence, but nothing's gonna stop that now. That's why we opposed the war in the first place, and why Bush will go down as the biggest dickhead of our times.

I don't think the US will invade Iran or Syria (though they might be stupid enough to chuck some bombs around). It's bluff and huff, just like their crap about North Korea. I reckon they'd risk a revolt of their generals if they tried.

Z for Zulfiqar

At your recommendation, Richard Tonkin, I hired V for Vendetta yesterday. Natalie Portman's schoolgirly voice was its greatest weakness. (Nothing against girlies, as such, since Joanne Whalley in "Edge of Darkness" was pretty good.)

I thought its final scene was a plot blunder, till I considered some of Tehran sharpens its sword:

... Third, Iran wishes to remind the US that in a repeat of the fighting techniques used by Hezbollah against Israel, the strategy of a weak power is very much alive, if it were to face the overwhelming military prowess of the superpower. That strategy entails creating chaos, mayhem and destruction...

No good can come from pursuing totalitarianism with its own tools of "chaos, mayhem and destruction".

From China's steaming ship exports:

... China is now the world's second-largest crude-oil importer, and imports account for 43% of its consumption. But more than 90% of its oil imports are currently transported by foreign oil tankers, according to a report by the Shanghai Securities News. The setup is both economically and strategically unsound, it said.

I predict Iranians will enjoy a good supply of cheap whitegoods and plasma screens.

Do Israel's lobbyists in the US have a Plan B, if George Junior refuses to talk to Iran?

anyone else noticed this?

In the past two or three weeks I have noticed that George Bush, Tony Blair, a number of the right's leading lights and now Geoff Pahoff have picked up the term "Islamic Fascism". It's a neat trick and nicely dillutes the so-called Left's use of the term Fascism to define what many of us believe is creeping up on us slowly.

Not in the way it did in 1930s Germany and Italy - although if one was to read the definitive book on Hitler's rise The Third Reich In Power by Richard J Evans who did exhaustive research that included years of trawling through Germany's great capacity for keeping government records, there are numerous startling similiarities between what happened from about 1932 onwards, and the manipulations of present day Western governments.

One of the tendencies now is that because many of us dare to question the validity of the information given us by so-called "official" sources, (and that now includes the majority of the American public when it's coming direct from George Bush's mouth) such as expressing skepticism about some supposed terror plots, that we also believe we aren't under attack from terrorists. It is just another of the great lies perpetuated against those who question their governments and in particular, ones who have lied to them repeatedly. Certainly John Howard, Tony Blair and George W Bush fall into the category of serial fibbers. Why the hell should we believe anything they say?

Not only do I and many of my leftie friends believe we are under some sort of threat from Islamic fundamentalists, we are also fearful that those who currently lead us are showing themselves time and time again to be utterly incompentent at dealing with such threats and even worse, apparently intent upon inciting furher acts of terror against us.

Left vs Right?

Michael, I dont think your pure Left/Right political spectrum does justice to the full range of ideological options.

There are many on the 'right' including paleo-conservatives and libertarians that would agree with your assessment of Bush and the neoconservatives.

The Fascist Threat Is In Front Of Your Nose. Again

"In the past two or three weeks I have noticed that George Bush, Tony Blair, a number of the right's leading lights and now Geoff Pahoff have picked up the term "Islamic Fascism".

Some credit where credit is due, please Michael.

I have been using the term "Islamist fascism" or sometimes "Islamic fascism" for years. Long before it became popular. I used it in my very first post to Webdiary. I can't claim I invented the term but I reckon it was a case of independent and spontaneous creation.

I had not used the word "fascist", other than in parody, since I was a "leftie", when we called everyone and everything that we did not like "fascist". Right down to a cigarette machine on the blink. I thought I would never use the word seriously again.

Now I use the term unashamedly to describe a new global threat based on a totalitarian ideology that requires hatred, vast propaganda, contempt for any concept of objective "truth", vicious racism, terror, murder and continuous war to survive.

I agree. The similarities between now and the thirties is striking. Right down to the treachery, denial and Quisling cowardice of the "pacifists" and "intellectual" "Left".

Let's all dance

Well, somebody has to cop the rap for Yo Blair's support of the neo-con US war mongers. My money is on a muslim minority group whose votes Tony can do without. It's a classic power ploy - set em up to fail, then watch'em fail and say "see, I was right". A bit like torturing someone until they say "OK OK I was plotting to kill you" then you say "I knew you were".

My favourite at the moment is Herr Secretaty John Reid, who a day or so before the arrest of the so-called UK bomb plotters, was pounding people in the UK with "if you want the police to protect you from terrorists, you must surrender your civil liberties (sic.)". Now there's a win-win argument - the government and the police come out looking like heroes while increasing their powers. Now I better go off and get my biometric passport.

Why The Sudden Fuss About Truth? From You Guys?

Ah well. Never mind fellas.

Soon you will be living under a fascist regime, just like the Europeans, again, if the "Left" gets its way. And then you will never have to worry about the quality of the media again. Just a taste of what to expect:

Here is an image from a Hezbollah web-site based in Iran that purports to show the Israeli warship hit by a missile a few weeks ago:


And here is a picture of the sinking of the de-commissioned HMAS Torrens off the coast of WA as published in Defence Industry Daily, after being hit by a torpedo fired by an Australian submarine:

Ah what the hell. It's the greater truth that matters, right? Isn't that what the "Left" is all about these days?

Remember the USS Liberty?

Geoff, I liked the photos although obviously they could use some lessons in regard to the sophistication of their propaganda.

They should study the Israelis - although they got caught in a false flag attack on the USS Liberty (www.ussliberty.org) it barely rated a mention.

Now that's the ability to manipulate the media!

Who Shot Liberty?

Remember the USS Liberty?

Oh yes. I remember the USS Liberty. Clearly. Even though it is nearly forty years ago now.

But I doubt if you do, Rob.

Contrary to your assertion it was big news at the time and has reared its ugly head every few years since. Moreover this is the first time I have heard it described as a "false flag" operation. Whatever it was, it certainly was not a "false flag" operation. Only the Israelis were flying Mirages, Egypt and Syria no longer had airforces and it was the fourth day of a six day war that had already been effectively won anyway. The Israelis offered assistance immediately after the attack.

There are some Americans who have never accepted that the attack was a case of mistaken identity, led by Dean Rusk and fuelled by some (understandably) bitter survivors of the attack.  The Israelis have always maintained that they did not know they were attacking a "neutral" vessel. I once read a detailed Israeli account of the attack and the "accident" claim seemed pretty plausible to me. I have never understood why the Israelis would deliberately attack an US naval vessel. The theories advanced do not sound at all likely to me.

When I read American sourced accounts claiming the Liberty was deliberately attacked I always have the same thought. The Americans have never had a "friendly fire" incident in a war zone?  

Soon you will be living

"Soon you will be living under a fascist regime, just like the Europeans, again, if the "Left" gets its way."

What is the 'way' you think the "Left" wants to get, Geoff?

BTW I've not seen any Australian with a political leaning toward the left say something like "Look, here's the truth, it's on Hizbollah's website."

And I've certainly not seen any 'diarist do that.  

So tell us please, why did you decide to resort to a C Parsons-like strawman in order to share these images you've found today?

Relevance? Salience? Waste of space...

As far as I can tell Pahoff's image, around which he makes no attempt to make any argumentative contribution to what is actually being discussed on the thread, is lifted from Andrew Bolt's website posting today. The actual page on which Hizbollah supplies the picture is in Arabic so I've no idea what it claims about the image. The English translation isn't provided. Perhaps Geoff or someone else could give it to us.

If Geoff wants to provide some semblance of argument like "why aren't people making points about Hizbollah's propaganda" that's fine but he surely needs to do a lot more work and perhaps then write it somewhere on the site where it's relevant. If this was a thread about truth, the media and Hizbollah this may have been at least a provocation, albeit one with little intellectual oomph. As it is it's just a waste of time and download bytes. And we can waste both of those at Bolt's site anytime.

The Very Image Of A True Academic Conspiracy Theorist

Last week we had the latest terror scare/media frenzy with the uncovering of the "plot" in Britain to blow up multiple airliners over the United States. The lurid story told how, using a technique attempted in the 1990s but not previously on the radar in the post 9/11 media stories, well organised suicide bombers would breach airport security and simultaneously carry out their dreadful mission.

Mate, I did plow on through the rest of your article but really we got a clear picture of the "intellectual oomph" on display here from the first paragraph. The purpose of my photos? I thought it was obvious enough but I will spell it out. Here we are under unprovoked attack from an ugly and particularly virulent new form of fascism, as evidenced by the horrific plot just uncovered, and what is our "intellectual" class doing? Debating the pro's and con's of the latest ratbag "It's all a Government/Media hoax" conspiracy theory freshly minted or in production even before the charges have been layed. Disgusting. Truly disgusting.

However, in a world where hysteria and hype rule, Western governments can clearly not be trusted to tell the truth, and the accountability mechanisms of Western democracies are compromised, it would be wise to also exercise considerable scepticism. 

I’m not saying these latest accusations aren’t true but rather we best keep an open mind and distrust any assertions that can’t make their way to conviction under ordinary rules of evidence and court procedure. This goes as much for the arrests in Australia as in Britain. For example I suspect arrests based on Howard’s new terror laws are not worth a cracker.

Tony Phillips , there is a point where scepticism ceases to be healthy and becomes a sign of crackpottery. I'm not saying these people are certainly guilty as charged. But you are coming close to saying that even if convicted they are probably innocent. In any event you are demonstrating a determined and wilfull blindness to matters that should be bleeding obvious by now. The threat of Islamist fascism is not someone's imagination, there is no "conspiracy" involving lying Governments and oil pipelines and public distractions and "Greater Israel" or whatever the latest idiot academic fad is and unfortunately we have stumbled into a dangerous war that we did not ask for and is not of our making and which we may very well lose.

You call this hysteria? Fine. I call rants about "terror scares" and "media frenzy" when the British police say they believe they have uncovered a plot as horrific as they say this one was hysteria. We're even.

This may not be a thread about "truth, the media and Hezbollah". But it does raise the dishonesty of the "Left", the propagaton of information and the threat of Islamic fascism the various strands of which, if not actually seamless, certainly are symbiotic or allied. 

A few other points if I may. Firstly, although you wrote the head article you do not own the thread. I understand the authoritarian streak that the "Left" has so much difficulty keeping under control, especially the academic "Left", but your proprietorial tone is inappropriate to say the least. It certainly will not work with me.

Next, you are not my teacher and I am not submitting work to you for grading. That is a relationship that is never going to happen. As far as I am concerned, if the photos got far enough up your nose for you to call them "a waste of space", a "waste of time and download bytes" then I have achieved one of my principal objectives.

Finally I did not lift the photos from Andrew Bolt's site. I lifted them from Tim Blair's site. He lifted them from Andrew Bolt's site. 

Thanks for the elaboration

Geoff, thanks for taking the trouble to provide something by way of argument for the salience of your re-posting of the piece by Tim Blair. I don't agree but it does give an insight into how you see things.

As to everything else, I'm happy for others to compare my words to yours and judge which bits have intellectual oomph and which are rants. We certainly perceive the world differently. I think we could both agree neither of us wants to see the world intimidated, let alone dominated, by fundamentalist Islam. In my case any sort of fundamentalism. However we obviously deeply disagree over the level of the threat and how to best deal with it.

But thanks for admitting in your last para that you are in the provocation business. One presumes you therefore sit happily at the feet of Blair and Bolt (sorry that was a provocation, I withdraw it, I'm sure you would at least sit beside them).

newspaper madness

The deterioration of the Australian printed media is alarming. As Jenny Hume points out - the story in the SMH of a working girl trawling through garbage bins which appeared to be more about her relationship with a lawyer but just adds gravitas to the trashing of a former Judge's reputation before all the facts are known. (I should imagine today there are hundreds of nervous husbands - that may include some journalists, on the Northern Beaches shredding credit card slips).

No doubt this story will be splashed accross News Ltd's Manly Daily and given the prominence it deserves and if any reader is in the slightest doubt that a brothel exists in the middle-class suburb of Balgowlah they only need to turn to the Daily's classifieds and find adverts offering such services. The name of the author of this trash gives a clue to  what I now think of the once great Fairfax stable - Tim Dick. Why we are reading this garbage along with tales of a swimmer's ballooning (or perhaps not) weight?

It's the dumbing down of the media and it really is scary. Anything can pass as "news" and gossip, rumour and innuendo is presented as fact until the general public, more concerned about the sport's results absorb enough of it to believe they will only be saved from the impending doom that will descend upon them by re-electing their current bunch of pollies.

It continues with so-called "opinion" pieces by self appointed spokespersons for whatever - the Devines, Akermans etc or again as in today's SMH, Gerard Henderson who rants on about who appointed the learned Judges who granted Jack Thomas's appeal. He infers the decision was political whilst carefully avoiding to mention he himself was a Howard advisor. His last paragraph is a real doozy:

"The Thomas case outlines the division between civil libertarian types (trial lawyers, artists, humanities academics, comedians and the like) who focus on legal process and others who take terrorists at their word and regard them as a genuine threat to democratic societies".

There we have it in a nutshell according to Henderson. Is this man for real? He overturns our entire legal history because he puts forward a thesis that as a lower court found the man guilty it should be left at that. Appeals courts have no place according to Henderson.

The vindictive and nasty pursuit of Jack Thomas by authorities again worries me as I do believe that the majority of those who work in the AFP, ASIO etc and even the Victorian police despite their dreadful history of association with mafia style gangs - are made up of honest and hard working men and women who only want the best for our country. But so was the German civil service in the early 30s.

If they continue their outragous prosecution of Thomas, based on a some TV show comments of having met Osama Bin Laden and taken his cash, it may finally open the way for the prosecution of the glove puppet known as George W Bush who not long before 9/11 hosted a large group of the Taliban government at the White House although did not take cash from them, rather gave them a bundle of dollars.

Tony Phillips is correct when he says, "how do we tell if there was a serious bomb plot?". I go further and ask, "What is really being planned under their noses while the authorities are hopelessly tied up spending millions of dollars pursuing non-entites across the world?".

The dreadful outrages of 9/11 and the Spanish and English train bombings clearly show these authorities are not quite on the ball. Politicians - who should all be held legally accountable for the lies they perpetuate (along with journalists) are hopelessly mired in using every single tragedy for their own benefit, pressuring security forces to come up with something, anything to make it look like they are doing something.

Meanwhile the person supposedly masterminding all this, Osama Bin Laden (does he really exist?) roams free.

slow browsing

Cooee to out the back'a Whoop-Whoop (we don't call Wagga Wagga 'Wagga'); I'm attempting humour: G'day JH.

You may or may not have set 'scripting' off; your choice. But some MSM pages are 'active' even without scripting; I have in mind The Age and SMH opinion-indexes for example, ABC 'Justin' and looks like most of The Australian. These pages (or perhaps ads on them) do an 'automatic refresh' or some other action, but whaddo I know? To stop such 'shenanigans', {L-click} the page (to set it active; headline if 'greyed' changes to normal colour) then strike {Esc} twice relatively quickly (the second might be 'just for luck'.) That might stop some 'error reports' being required. In any case, it is not advisable to allow any program to sent an error-report, to MS, say: too much of your (line, if not living) time could be going to waste.

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