Miracles do happen! Even so I was surprised to open today’s Age and find they had published my letter arguing for action to expose and attack extremist Islam. It was also the lead letter. The Australian also published a letter by me in similar vein, along with other “strong action” type letters (see both my letters below) and an excellent editorial which identifies in no uncertain way “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” ( see attached Editorial on Terrorist Risk).
Victorian Police Commissioner Ashton stated that the charging of five men with the threat of implementing terrorist acts in the centre of Melbourne was based on evidence that they intended to undertake an explosive event and use other weapons indiscriminately. It appears the police had been aware for some time that they had been planning terrorist action and had concluded that, when some of them were recently seen visiting possible targets (including St Paul’s Cathedral), it was time to arrest them. Ashton claimed publicly that they were “self-radicalised, we believe, but inspired by ISIS and ISIS propaganda." He also said four of the five were Australian-born with a Lebanese background and"there is another suspect in this matter who will be charged that was an Egyptian-born Australian citizen. All the others were Australian-born".
It is now more than two weeks since the South Australian blackout on 28 Sept and yet the South Australian government has said nothing about the possible need to change its existing policy of relying on wind power to supply 40 per cent of the energy for electricity. Indeed, in terms of official news releases it took five days before on Oct 4 Premier Weatherill made even a formal acknowledgement of the blackout However, he did then announce an “independent” review led by former Police Commissioner Burns on October 4. My inquiry to the Premier’s office about whether submissions could be made has still not been answered.
David Cameron has been British PM since May 2010 and won a second term in May 2015 with an all Conservative government (his first government was a Coalition with the Liberal Democrats). That second term was won with a much larger majority (331-232) than predicted by polls, probably because the polls under-estimated the (then) unpopular proposals by Labour Leader Millibrand (now replaced by the extremist Corbyn!). An independent inquiry into the polling suggested that the polling methods resulted in conservative voters being under-represented. The 72.7% who voted on the EU referendum exceeded the proportion in the May 2015 election (66.4%) and the 1975 European referendum’s 64.62%. Reports indicate that those who voted to leave appear to have comprised a high proportion of lower-middle income groups.
Today’s Australian reports below an address by Kevin Andrews to a leading US think-tank, the Heritage Foundation, in Washington DC. (I attended Heritage in the 1980s and contributed an article to its journal). Andrews claims there is scope for greater use of special forces in Iraq/Syria and that Turnbull’s support for the advise-and-assist mission to train the Iraqis is not the right strategy. He refers to the advice to Congress by the US Defense Secretary, Ashley Carter, that there would be an increase in the use of US special forces (it appears that subsequently an additional 200 were sent).
When an Australian PM makes an obviously pre-prepared address during a visit overseas his main object is not so much to inform his overseas audience as to let his supporters and opponents at home know his thinking about those government policies that are in dispute domestically. The address Turnbull made in Washington to the think-tank Centre for Strategic and International Studies was relevant particularly to his government’s policies on Islamic terrorism and our military involvement in Iraq/Syria –and to his own capacity to deliver them.
Today’s Australian provided my best laughs for the New Year – but also again highlighted the failure of experts and Ministers to understand how to present the threat from Islam.
The Christmas-New Year period offers an opportunity for deeper than usual thinking about where the world is going. In this end-year the most important intellectual (and military) challenge undoubtedly relates to that posed by militaristic Islam and the view taken by some of its sects that an objective of life is to kill non-believers, including by implementing an accompanying self-imposed death.
Over the period since my Commentary last Thursday, the responses by Turnbull to the criticisms of ASIO head Lewis and to some other challenges add further questions to his suitability to continue as head of the Coalition.
Christmas drinks with former colleagues in Canberra after sending last Sunday’s Commentary have been followed by some important developments and questions about government policies both here and overseas.