Controlling Islamic Extremism
As mentioned in yesterday’s Commentary, the publication in The Australian of reports on the treatment of wives by Muslim men prompted me to circulate a Gatehouse report on various incidents involving Muslims in March in the UK. I also sent a letter to The Australian suggesting “the wives issue” raised a question about allowing the continued operation of Hitzb ut-Tahrir in Australia. That letter is below with two others on the issue, albeit one of which suggests that it would be discriminatory to point the finger at any particular group, including Muslims, which uses violence against women.
If she reads this morning’s article by Andrew Bolt she and others may, however, recognise that the Islamic religion prescribes the beating of disobedient or rebellious wives and that this would run counter to Australian law. Would this not justify some form of discrimination against Islamic practice? Indeed, the main reason I suggest in my letter that Hizb ut-Tahrir cease being allowed to operate in Australia is that it advocates the application of sharia law and jihadism. Australia’s governments and our Church leaders should publicly explain why that is not acceptable in a democratic society which prescribes freedom of the individual. (Incredibly, in 2008 the then Archbishop of Canterbury gave a lecture in which he said that sharia is a method of law rather than a single complete and final system ready to be applied wholesale to every situation, and noted that there was room, even within Islamic states which apply sharia, for some level of ‘dual identity’, where the state is not in fact religiously homogenous).
What to do about N Korea
The failure of N Korea to launch its latest missile does not mean that the threat is over: to the contrary Kim Jong-un’s survival depends on him being able to demonstrate that NK has the capacity to develop missiles which have the capacity to reach the US (and hence Australia too). He has made it such an important issue that his leadership is at stake and he must continue to develop the country’s missile capacity and be chanted mansei (long live) from the square where military parades are made. The question is how the US can handle this now that it appears that NK may be “far more advanced than expected” (see NK Shows Increased Missile Capacity).
The first thing to note is that Trump is reported to have no comment, which suggests that he is not set on taking immediate action. Secondly, Vice President Pence is making a 10 day visit to South Korea, Japan, Indonesia, and Australia, which suggests a survey of opinion in countries which could be affected by NK missiles or other action (see Pence on N Korea). It is interesting that Turnbull has made no substantive statement about the NK threat or the Pence visit. One assumes that Australia would support US action against NK if an adequate public justifiable explanation is given. Third, while it is unclear what President XI’s position is, it possible that XI may have given Trump in principle support to some kind of action against NK, although not to be directly involved itself.
While it is possible that the missile failure reflects cyber activity by the US, it must be doubted that such activity would stop NK from further launches and constitute a longer term defensive measure for those exposed to missile attack. This means that direct military action against NK will be necessary at some stage unless an internal revolution can be instigated or occurs anyway (remember that Kim despatched his brother in Malaysia very recently). True, such action would surely require approval by South Korea, which is exposed to artillery attacks from NK, but which Niall Ferguson claims to have only a relatively limited capacity (see Ferguson on NK). Ferguson also claims that US Defence Secretary Mattis “will know better than anyone the military weakness of Pyongyang” and, as Trump has indicated recently, he is much more inclined to favour military opinion than Obama was. Ferguson might have added that he (Trump) is also much less inclined to support talks and negotiations with NK.
Another aspect of the NK issue is that, if it can be justifiably said publicly that NK is now close to having the capacity to send nuclear armed missiles, Trump would likely regard military action against NK as having the capacity to lift his credibility not only in the US but elsewhere too. That would, in turn, make it easier to implement policies in other areas, including against IS in the Middle East.
Abbott Speaking Up
Abbott has again stirred the possum of Liberal policy with an article in today’s Herald Sun listing points of reform on which the party should focus in an effort to recover the “lost” polling (see Abbott on Reforms Needed). He has also started well with a new interview program on Sydney Radio 2 GB after that station stopped the regular interview it had with Treasurer Scott Morrison. It will certainly be of interest to see whether Turnbull’s visit to India helps recover some of the lost ground.