Australia is fortunate to have journalist Andrew Bolt prepared to expose the underlying source of aggression by Islamic State and other Islamist groups – “Islam, itself, is one of the “root causes” of this horror in the Middle East — and in Nigeria, Yemen, Libya, Chechnya and more besides — but it is the only “root cause” we dare not publicly debate” (see article below). Let us hope that no attempts are made to stop the debate.
Foreign Minister Bishop is not as open but she too identifies the source of the problem in an extensive front page lead by Defence correspondent which The Age has run without the usual adverse comment – “the Islamic State (also known as ISIL) is an ideology as well as a military force and will therefore survive efforts to stamp it out”, Bishop asserted.
By contrast, the announcement that Obama will on Wednesday state the US’s strategy for handling IS but makes no reference to the influence of Islam as such, merely asks Americans to understand the serious threat, and says only “ultimately we’re going to defeat them”(see this article in Wall St Journal). It seems unlikely that any Arab countries will be directly involved.
Obama’s handling of the situation has prompted former House of Representatives majority leader, Republican Tom de Lacy, to accuse Obama of being influenced by “sympathies for Islam acquired from being raised by a Muslim stepfather”. It is impossible to identify the extent of any such influence but other happenings suggests it may exist. Note, for example, that the US airstrikes in Somalia, which killed the Islamist leader of al-Shebab, contrast with the refusal (to date) of the US to conduct such strikes in Syria but have been given “heartfelt thanks” from the President of the country (Kenya) where Obama’s stepfather was born.
Kissinger’s strong support for airstrikes on Syria is welcome, as it also is for “there can’t be any debate any more about fighting them”.
In reality it is now clear that the Islamic State and similar groups are interpreting the Koran as requiring Muslims to kill or put under sharia control both westerners and moderate Muslims themselves in their own countries. Much destruction and change can occur even where only a small group of extremists exist, as they do in western countries including Australia.
This is serious threat to our lives and beliefs and fully justifies both the foreign and domestic response which Abbott has seemingly envisaged to date. But as indicated by the training by Islamic State of young boys to become jihadists, the response needs to recognise that much more is involved, and for a longer period, than counter-terrorist and defence action.
Henry Ergas has drawn attention to the ongoing problem with Treasury’s public support for Keynesian policies and its public contradiction of the Minister for Finance and Acting Assistant Treasurer. This confirms that when the Coalition took office it should have undertaken a comprehensive check of the economic policy attitudes of senior staff and, where judged necessary, offered alternative employment. It also means that Ministers will further increase their reliance on advice from outside the public service, including from office staff.