Terrorism and Islamic Connections
In Friday’s Commentary I highlighted the editorial in The Australian saying “that Islamist terror cannot be bought off; it wants nothing less than a totalitarian caliphate for the planet. Jihad denialism, which wilfully obscures the wellsprings of Islamist violence, has limited appeal in Australia although its supporters include progressive elites with their media megaphones”. I also drew attention to the failure of Turnbull to make any reference to the likely source of the terrorist bombing in Manchester being Islamic and that he seemed “largely to be missing” from various references by other ministers to sources and the need for policy changes.
Since then it has become abundantly clear that belief in extremist Islam was the source but Turnbull has still made no Islamic reference. In her article in today’s Herald Sun, headed Time for truth on Islam, Peta Credlin rightly says “Right now in this country, we’re having two conversations; one where we use the word “Islam” and one where we don’t. Last week in parliament, the PM condemned the terrorist attack in Manchester and, while replete with words of solidarity, his multiple speeches all failed to mention the religion in whose name the killings had occurred”. Credlin confirmed that she had been unable to find any Islamic reference on Turnbull’s web site.
Andrew Bolt also referred yesterday to the incredible reply by the head of ASIO, Duncan Lewis, to a question at the Senate Estimates hearing by Pauline Hanson on whether refugees are a source of terrorism. His answer was “I have absolutely no evidence to suggest there is a connection between refugees and terrorism”. Needless to say, Bolt has given numerous examples of terrorist activity by refugees (see attached Bolt on Lewis). He asks whether “our ASIO boss is blind to the facts – and to a clear and present danger?” and notes that Lewis has been quoted by a leading Fairfax reporter, Mark Kenny, as “confirming” (sic) that Hanson was wrong to imply any connection.
It will be recalled that, shortly after Turnbull became PM, he quoted Lewis as an authority and that he (Turnbull) had been advised then by Lewis that there is no religious connection. I drew attention then (in December 2015) to comments by Lewis reported in the Herald Sun “warning against being too critical of the Muslim religion as that may impact negatively on ASIO’s access to information. Astonishingly, Lewis states that he doesn’t ‘buy the notion the issue of extremism is in some way fostered or sponsored or supported by the Muslim religion’. This is an extremely worrying comment by Australia’s top counter-terrorist (possibly prompted by Turnbull) and suggests he needs a refresher course on the religion by someone like Durie” (Rev Mark Durie is of course a real expert on Islam who has written on Islamic beliefs). Lewis subsequently went quiet but has now awoken.
It is sometimes said “once bitten twice shy”. But Lewis is clearly not shy of making errors which a head of ASIO should not make. He should be replaced ASAP. The question also arises as to why Turnbull has not made a meaningful statement on what is an important policy issue for Australia. He should do so –also ASAP.
Trump’s Overseas Visit
Trump is on his way home after the meeting of G7 (no Russia) and forcing the other 6 to accept a watered down communiqué (such meetings usually produce 10 pagers full of good intentions!). Possibly the most important reason for the “short” version is that Trump refused to say whether the US accepted the Paris Agreement on climate change. It appears that he said he would make a decision next week (see attached Trump on Climate Change).
This attached report says that “While the declaration included remarkable language highlighting that the U.S. stood apart, the other G7 members expressed some relief that Trump had not outright rejected the accord and said they remained hopeful he would come around ‘The United States of America is in the process of reviewing its policies on climate change and on the Paris Agreement and thus is not in a position to join the consensus on these topics’ the leaders wrote. ‘Understanding this process, the Heads of State and of Government of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom and the Presidents of the European Council and of the European Commission reaffirm their strong commitment to swiftly implement the Paris Agreement, as previously stated at the Ise-Shima Summit’.”
It also refers to Trump’s claim that a major topic at the Summit was terrorism and that he had succeeded in persuading some to step up their defence contributions under the NATO agreement. Some of such claims are made for home consumption and gaffes have been made, but the attached analysis by Greg Sheridan in the Weekend Australian provides an excellent summary with a balanced conclusion viz “The question is this: will Trump’s wildly dysfunctional style and the frenzy of his political enemies overwhelm the good things his administration is trying to do, in a foreign policy that is much more conventional, both for good and for bad, than we ever expected?” (see attached Sheridan on Trump O’Seas Visit).
In my view, the most remarkable conclusion that emerges from Trump’s oversea visit is that, despite the extensive criticism of his political amateurism and “not suited to be President” by “experts” and political opponents, Trump has shown that he can handle not only the leaders of other countries but the important policy issues which are discussed. I can think of quite a few other leaders who, even with political backgrounds, never really made it. Of course, that may still happen to Trump.
It has become clearer and clearer that the questioning in Washington and in left-wing media of his attitudes and relationships is designed by political opponents (and the left wing media) to push his polling lower and create the possibility of an impeachment. It is also apparent that his predecessor established or maintained sections in the bureaucracy designed to make it more difficult for Trump to make substantive changes in policy or even to prevent them altogether.
I have previously mentioned the use by Obama of executive powers to determine environmental policy without involving Congress. My “spy” in Washington has now drawn my attention not only to the establishment within the EPA (ie not a political appointment and not therefore readily dismissible on a change of government) of a Scientific Integrity group but that this group remains operative within the EPA and is busy arranging inter alia a “conference” in June of like-minded scientists from the Union of Concerned Scientists. I recommend that you read the full text of the attached article just published in the Wall St Journal (see attached Trump & Scientific Integrity).