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The shockwaves from Bali ripple outward.
October 17, 2002 4:32 AM   Subscribe

The shockwaves from Bali ripple outward. John Sidel explains the likely impact on Indonesia, whilst Clive James and Germaine Greer discuss the impact on Australia. Thanks to Miguel for the two lost links. The Independent leader which caused such offence is here. For many, for whom 9/11 was remote, Bali is close and personal.
posted by grahamwell (57 comments total)

 
Links recovered from this Metatalk thread.
posted by grahamwell at 4:36 AM on October 17, 2002


I used to like Clive. I really did. But at this point, I'm more inclined to say fuck him - fuck him in the eye with a dead donkey's wasabi-dipped dick. I'm too deeply involved in this particular outrage, in a way I wasn't 13 months ago, I am all too aware, to be ready to form a coherent argument right now.

But, as always, I'm compelled to throw in my two bits.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:10 AM on October 17, 2002


What was so offensive about the Independent editorial? I missed that.
posted by dash_slot- at 5:23 AM on October 17, 2002


In today's Washington Post, an article states this bombing was to Australia as 9/11 was to the US.

In both cases, a major event seems to have shattered a country's sense of security.
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 5:29 AM on October 17, 2002


Clive James didn't care for the Independent editorial.

" .. (the) editorial writer sounds like an unreconstructed Australian intellectual, one who can still believe, even after his prepared text was charred in the nightclub, that the militant fundamentalists are students of history. "

and it makes his point for him.
posted by grahamwell at 5:45 AM on October 17, 2002


As I commented in the deleted thread from yesterday, there is a danger of this being labelled 'Australia's 9/11' when it is a trageday for both Indonesia & Oz. The Australia bears the brunt of the greatest loss of life and an uncertain future as it gets dragged to the forefront of the WoT but the long-term affects on Indonesia could be catastrophic.

Business confidence, already shakey following the currency crashes of the late 90's & post-9/11 uncertainty, could be totally shattered and toursim, the Republic's 3rd industry with some USD13Bn pa thru Bali alone, will go the same way.

Sidel's considered piece covers the political & social backdrop quite nicely and for me it is always refreshing to read something by someone who has a grasp of the myriad complexities of the region. One of the thoughts niggling at the back of my mind as my g/f & I pored over 'net & cable news in between frantic phonecalling to friends in Bali over the weekend was 'Oh, shit. Now every half-arsed hack (of all media) is going to turn into an RI expert overnight'.

As for James's piece, I can overlook the emotive first paragraph that gets the location of the bombing wrong [it was Kuta Legian not Kuta Beach] but he seems to miss the point of the Independent leader and just rambles on taking lame political potshots. Greer's closing paragraphs on the other hand, are particulary pertinent.

On preview:
Taken Outacontext: And there you go...
dash_slot: Indy leader here. It is carefully worded but could easly be taken out of context as James has done.
stav: Hang in there mate. Esp. for more lines like 'fuck him in the eye with a dead donkey's wasabi-dipped dick' ;-)
posted by i_cola at 5:45 AM on October 17, 2002


If I'm reading it right, the Independent article is basically saying that the only way to tackle fundamentalist terrorism is to identify and address the underlying causes of their resentment, rather than trying to play whack-a-mole with these headbangers - as the IRA pointed out after the Brighton bombing, the authorities have to get it right every time, while the terrorists only have to get it right once. Terrorism is more properly regarded as being the symptom, rather than the cause of an underlying problem - however misguided, these shitheads do not act unless they feel that they are in the right. It is simply impossible to deal with this problem by identifying and killing all the nutjobs in one fell swoop, much as the rest of us would love to. In that context, surely trying to understand and deal with the motivations behind of militant fundamentalism is a more logical and effective way of reducing the threat to the rest of us? In any sense other than a purely rhetorical one, how is this premise actually offensive to people?
posted by Doozer at 5:56 AM on October 17, 2002


Thanks for making Summer's link and mine into a coherent post, grahamwell! Although deleted, there are quite a few comments on yesterday's thread (for example, by rory and Summer) which are definitely worth reading and bearing in mind.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 5:56 AM on October 17, 2002


so...

1. the Independent article caused offence by suggesting that some of the motivating factors of the al Qa'ida attacks are valid grievances, such as "the failure of the US to use its influence to secure a fair settlement between Israelis and Palestinians"

2. Clive James is at least one of the 'outraged', saying that "...surely the reverse is true: they (the terrorists) are students of the opposite of history, which is theocratic fanaticism. Especially, they are dedicated to knowing as little as possible about the history of the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians".

Clive reckons the real cause of the Bali bombing is that "... the real horror, for the diehard theocrats, is the country with a large number of Muslims that has been infiltrated by the liberal ideas of the west. "



Clearly though they are arguing at cross-purposes. The Independent is talking about general motivating factors for al Qa'ida wheras Clivey is talking about specific motivations for Bali.

I'd say it was pretty obvious that they are both right. There are plenty of very valid grievances that can be held against the West, and the anti-Western feeling that this engenders gives a moral platform from which fanatics with additional agendas operate.
posted by jonvaughan at 6:15 AM on October 17, 2002


Thanks, Miguel.

Coincidentally enough, I just wrote a bit about the James and Greer articles for my own site, talking about the problems of expatriate comments on current events. Rather than repost it all here, I'll just quote the last couple of paragraphs:

Going away changes you, that much is obvious; but it also means that, unless you go back often enough and long enough, or go back for good, it changes your ability to represent Australian opinion. At some point, you can speak only as an expatriate.

Greer clearly passed that point some time ago: anyone who writes "why Australia was so keen to be involved in the Gulf war must remain a mystery" is saying that Australian popular opinion and politics has become mysterious to them, and that really, they have no idea what those bloody foreigners are thinking any more. Which is hardly a crime - but hardly a sign that we're reading current "Australian" opinion.

posted by rory at 6:17 AM on October 17, 2002


From my own ignorant vantage point I seem to have read in a few places that there were known terrorist threats and groups in Indonesia but that the govt kept the info fairly well under wraps, and, further, that the US had alerted them to what might be in the wings.

I am a bit tired of the notion that the victims must understand the needs of the fundamentalists. Their "needs" are clear and simple.

They are Muslims, and they are not only Arab Muslims, and what the baddies among these Muslims want is a religous (Muslim) state to replace a secular state. Even in Great Britain some shrill Muslim voices have said publicly that they hoped some day to run the country as a Muslim country.

Now, if this is accurate assessment, what should be done?
posted by Postroad at 6:24 AM on October 17, 2002


I read the deleted comments, and I felt a little strange about this one in particular, wherein the writer intimated that the reason for Australia's being targeted was its siding with the United States in conflicts such as Viet Nam and Saudi Arabia.

This is another case of "she deserved the rape because her skirt was too short" logic.

Australians and Americans, as well as all civilised people on the face of the earth are squarely against barbarians who practise random terror.

The sniveling "we shouldn't have taken sides" cowardice is not only disgusting, but morally indefensible.
posted by hama7 at 6:31 AM on October 17, 2002


As I commented in the deleted thread from yesterday, there is a danger of this being labeled 'Australia's 9/11' when it is a tragedy for both Indonesia & Oz.

It's unfortunate that this comment itself is based on forgetting that nearly a third of WTC victims were international citizens.

Bali's economy is going to take a very long time to recover from this.

I can not and will never claim to be a survivor of the WTC attacks, but I was close enough to hear it happen and smell it for weeks following. My shock has settled into a quiet anger, and an understanding that doing nothing to protect oneself in the face of danger is itself an unethical, immoral act. On September 12, I still hated Bush and enjoyed reading the Guardian, Fisk, Chomsky and Pilger. That has changed.

Claiming that the 'real issue is finding the root cause of terror' is as asinine. The real issue is not murdering people in nightclubs. I'm waiting for IndyMedia to publish something along the lines of "Aussies throwing money around Bali deserved to die". That sort of palefaced bullshit is what started to open my eyes to the very clear ethical distinction between us and those that want us dead.
posted by joemaller at 6:31 AM on October 17, 2002


They are Muslims

They are some Muslims. Islam is too big for everyone to be lumped together like that. This a semantic slip which usually derails rational discussions. The religion and it's institutions are being used as cover. Islam needs to clean its house.
posted by joemaller at 6:44 AM on October 17, 2002


Claiming that the 'real issue is finding the root cause of terror' is as asinine. The real issue is not murdering people in nightclubs....That sort of palefaced bullshit is what started to open my eyes to the very clear ethical distinction between us and those that want us dead.

Amen. Why is it so hard for some people to directly address one problem without mitigating or tempering it with other issues? What is so hard about saying: "The tactic of deliberately murdering innocent people -- regardless of the 'motivation' behind it -- is wrong, and must be stopped"? Taking that position in no way prevents examination of, and attempts to correct, what are perceived to be the "root causes." But tempering the evilness of these slaughters by constant reference to U.S. foreign policy is repugnant. Moral relativism is repugnant.
posted by pardonyou? at 6:46 AM on October 17, 2002


I am a bit tired of the notion that the victims must understand the needs of the fundamentalists. Their "needs" are clear and simple.

Indeed, what needs is to dominate a wide swath of countries, each of them run in a manner similar to the Taliban's take on governance. The IRA employs terrorism to purge the Brits from Ireland (I'm oversimplifying here), but if they achieved that goal, I don't think its plausible to say that Canada would be their next target in the commonwealth for liberation.

Claiming that the 'real issue is finding the root cause of terror' is as asinine.

What it is is macro-stockholm syndrome. Who in their right mind would dare appease a group advocating divine right to employ mass murder of non combatants?
The political aspects of Al Qaida's agenda are but a red herring.
If the horror of bali can be seen as having any positive benefit it will be to refocus the world's eye on the birdie. (The birdie being what a serious threat this is to the first world. And as goes the first word, so goes the second and third, thanks to globalism)

But time's a wastin', as they say in Texas, while bush gets suckered into Iraq and Palestinian side-conflicts
posted by BentPenguin at 6:50 AM on October 17, 2002


"...saying...The tactic of deliberately murdering innocent people -- regardless of the 'motivation' behind it -- is wrong, and must be stopped"?

yeah, but how are you going to stop it? there are not a discrete set of terrorists that can be stopped. The only way of stopping this type of act IS to correct the root cause(s).

You are not 'tempering the evil...' either; where is the point in seeing the situation out of context?
posted by jonvaughan at 6:57 AM on October 17, 2002


yeah, but how are you going to stop it? there are not a discrete set of terrorists that can be stopped.

Sure there is. Mutually assured mayhem. Al Qaida's whole strategy is based on the simple assumtion that the west will respond as they always do and would never respond in kind.

So, right now, to go to church in Parts of pakistan is a dangerous thing to do because terrorists might show up and slaughter innocent worshipers. But the mosques are safe.

To go in public is to take a small (but far larger than previous) risk that you could be in the wrong place at the wrong time if'when they succeed in pulling off their next stunt, but meanwhile its safe to walk down the street in Jedda (unless you're US Military).

Even it up, instill the same terror in the arab street, otherwise islamic terror is about to place a horrible toll on western economies. Screw with the global economy, and all bets are off as it reorients between nations.

Its their game and they get to make the rules . Its kill or be killed. there's no avoiding that as evinced in the last year or so.
posted by BentPenguin at 7:18 AM on October 17, 2002


Any Brit will know the slogan "Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime." It may come across as weasel words from Tony Blair, but it's a valid position. Which is why it's perplexing to hear people argue that if you want to be tough on the causes of crime, you can't be tough on the crime and the criminals. All this talk of 'Stockholm syndrome' makes me think that some people would try to tackle a forest fire by selectively pissing on the spots where the flames spring up.

Postroad: I'd say what you need to do is a benign 'divide and conquer'. Show moderate Muslims that they can be represented within the system, and they won't look for extremist alternatives.
posted by riviera at 7:19 AM on October 17, 2002


The trick is to ensure that nobody thinks that terrorism works. I fear that hand-wringing like this, although understandable and indeed laudable in context, just encourages more atrocities. Alan M. Dershowitz advocates torture but perhaps he deserves a listen.
posted by grahamwell at 7:51 AM on October 17, 2002


"Even it up, instill the same terror in the arab street, otherwise islamic terror is about to place a horrible toll on western economies. Screw with the global economy, and all bets are off as it reorients between nations. Its their game and they get to make the rules . Its kill or be killed. there's no avoiding that as evinced in the last year or so"

surely this is a troll. (roll out the big guns pa, we're a going fightin'...)

why not do the right thing now, rather than leaving it until 10 years down the road, billions spent, millions killed, problem worse than ever.
posted by jonvaughan at 7:56 AM on October 17, 2002


Sure there is. Mutually assured mayhem. Al Qaida's whole strategy is based on the simple assumtion that the west will respond as they always do and would never respond in kind.
I think you are misreading Al Qaida's intentions. It seems to me that they want a war of terror, they want the US to attack Arab countries, they want the West to instill terror in the Arb street, because they really want to destabilize the region and create a huge fundamentalist movement. Don't forget that for them its a win-win situation: they win and the infidels are displaced, they die and they go to heaven.
posted by talos at 7:59 AM on October 17, 2002


"The World as it is today is how others shaped it. We have two choices: either accept it with submission, which means letting Islam die, or to destroy it, so that we can construct the world that Islam requires"

-Ayatollah Mohammed Baquer al-Sadr.

"To us the east is like the West. Both are enemies...We are not fighting within the rules of the world as it exists today. We reject all those rules."

-Mostafa Chamran.

"We are not fighting so that the enemy recognizes us and offers us something. We are fighting to wipe out the enemy."

-Hussein Mussavi.

"...An Islamic state is a state of war until the world sees and accepts the light of the true faith"

-Ayatollah Fazl-allah Mahalati.

"...It means that Allah wants true believers to think exactly the same and behave in harmony and live in tranquillity with one another. This is why those who suggest other thoughts or try to be different are divisive elements, schismatics who ought to be brought back into the fold or eliminated..."

-Fath-Allah Bidar.

"We say that killing is tantamount to saying a prayer when those who are harmful need to be put out of the way. Deceit, trickery, conspiracy, cheating, stealing and killing are nothing buts means."

-Muhammad Navab-Safavi.
posted by clavdivs at 8:04 AM on October 17, 2002


I think Americans arguing that the answer to terrorism is simply to blast all terrorists and their sympathisers off the face of the world should ask themselves whether the Brits would have had the right to invade the Republic of Ireland in order to stamp out the IRA, which had undoubtedly benefitted from moral support there. And, supposing we had had the right, would exercising it have done any good. Taking the notorious supporters and funders of terrorism like Noraid, should we have shot them down in the streets of Boston?

And if you conclude that such an act would have been incredibly shocking to US public opinion, and hugely increased sympathy for the IRA among ordinary decent Americans who do not themselves think planting bombs or murdering civilian policemen is right, then it might be easier to see why Brits who are horrified by al-Qaeda are still reluctant to sing up for a war on Iraq.
posted by alloneword at 8:08 AM on October 17, 2002


It's unfortunate that this comment itself is based on forgetting that nearly a third of WTC victims were international citizens.

Hmmm...I see your point joe but in saying 'Australia's 9/11' I mean exactly what you say about international citizens & 9/11. 9/11 was not soley America's tragedy in the same way the Bali bombing isn't soley Australia's. I should have made that clearer.

And it's slightly ironic that you lump The Guardian et al together when it's the paper that publishes James's piece knocking the Australian 'intellectual left' inc. Pilger. It may be an evil lefty paper in some eyes (altho' my guess is certain people are confusing the definition of 'liberal' in Europe) but at least it's one that makes a point of publishing a range of views.


The thrust of the Independent leader is the idea of winning over potential 'muslim in the street' support from more extreme terrorist elements. Hearts & minds 'n' all that...

I wouldn't even begin to bother addressing the core desires of al Queda. It's a case of restricting potential support wherever they operate...or, more accurately, wherever they have influence thru local terror groups.

It's interesting to see Northern Ireland being brought up by posters as the situation there, altho' far from resolved, is being addressed as pragmatically as possible within a defined framework and is a good point of reference for anyone wishing to attempt to find a solution to terrorism.
posted by i_cola at 8:13 AM on October 17, 2002


"why not do the right thing now, rather than leaving it until 10 years down the road, billions spent, millions killed, problem worse than ever"

the quotes i just put up are from Iranian fundamentalists from the 70s to the 80's.

BP is perhaps suggesting to terrorize the arab world as they the rest. (which I don't agree with)

Islam is faced with it's greatest crises of modern times. The issue is complex. Terrorizing Islam is the last thing we should do. We need to understand people, realize the difficulties of those whom do not advocate terror, those good people who want to pray in peace, raise their children, build a better world. But Islam does not mean pacifism nor total war. (IMO) I use to distrust Islam. But i am educating my self to it's virtues. And i hope that those virtues will prevail and not the terrorist aspirations of a small segment of Islamic fundamentalists bent on world domination.
posted by clavdivs at 8:22 AM on October 17, 2002


At some point, you can speak only as an expatriate.

Greer clearly passed that point some time ago: anyone who writes "why Australia was so keen to be involved in the Gulf war must remain a mystery" is saying that Australian popular opinion and politics has become mysterious to them, and that really, they have no idea what those bloody foreigners are thinking any more.


I think that's unfair rory. Greer is saying that Australia getting involved in the Gulf war was so contrary to its interests that it remains a mystery why it did so. I'd agree with her. In the case of Britain and Canada, we're clearly siding with the the most powerful nation in order to gain its protection in the future. But as Greer says, the US has proved it's not interested in protecting Australia, so why should Australia put itself out and make itself a target?

I'm not sure how much Greer goes back to Australia but I know I heard recently that she was thinking of moving back for good. But as she's fighting to be rector of St Andrews University at the moment it looks like she's abandoned that idea.
posted by Summer at 8:24 AM on October 17, 2002


"In the case of Britain and Canada, we're clearly siding with the the most powerful nation in order to gain its protection in the future."

(snark) yeah summer,we will protect your back.

the US has proved it's not interested in protecting Australia, so why should Australia put itself out and make itself a target?

What do you mean? what evidence do you have. where does it say "Australia: we wont protect her." Maybe it is just my opinion, but I was under the impression that Australia can protect herself. The few Australians I have met are extremely cool. They have a fierce independence of mind and a great sense of humor, a love of life almost unequaled to anyone. They don't seem to take crap from anyone. These may be generalizations but come on summer.
posted by clavdivs at 8:38 AM on October 17, 2002


They are Muslims, and they are not only Arab Muslims

in the Arab street

I don't want to take this too far off the original topic of the tragedy in Bali, but woefully imprecise language like this - which is becoming widespread not just on MeFi but in the media and Western society generally - plays neatly into the hands of Al Qaeda and its terrorist brethren, who'd like the actions they carry out in the name of their twisted brand of Islam to be seen as representing the will of the entire Muslim world.

When, for example, have you ever seen any talk of the Ismailis, a large and very liberal Shia sect? What about the millions of followers of Sufism - who are considered deviants (or even infidels) by more fundamentalist sects?

And when talk is of the "Arab street," which countries are we talking about? Which streets? Is it just the vocal, visible, but numerically small minorities who burn effigies and shout slogans, or do we assume that the millions who are going about their daily business agree with this "Arab street"?

I just think we need to remember that we're talking about a very small group of radicals here whose power only grows if we allow them to speak for all Muslims or the entire "Arab street."

On preview: what clavdivs said in his second post. Had that first one - with the random decontextualized quotes of zealots - been left without qualification, it'd be exactly the kind of over-simplification I'm arguing against. Were I to take quotes from Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, David Koresh, Timothy McVeigh, etc., and post 'em all in a row, would that represent American religious thought?
posted by gompa at 8:46 AM on October 17, 2002


Greer is saying that Australia getting involved in the Gulf war was so contrary to its interests that it remains a mystery why it did so.

I disagree, Summer. Greer writes: "Why Australia was so keen to be involved in the Gulf war must remain a mystery. Australian involvement in that conflict meant very little to its allies, the actual contribution being minuscule, because during the 1980s the Australian defence establishment had gradually and deliberately been reduced to next to nothing."

She doesn't say it was contrary to Australian interests; she suggests that there was no obvious reason (to her) for Australia to send troops to the Gulf.

But there's no way that the Australian government believed in 1990 that sending troops to fight alongside America in the Gulf would 'mean little'; on the contrary, given the effective side-lining of the ANZUS alliance in the 1980s by New Zealand's declaration of nuclear-free status, the Gulf War was the first obvious opportunity for the Australian government to demonstrate its continued staunch alliance with the US - and under a UN flag to satisfy the doubters, to boot.

And the majority of the Australian people believed we should be there. My friends were asking each other, half-jokingly, who would sign up if there was a draft. When the bombs started flying, the coverage on the ABC was wall-to-wall. It was a tense time for all of us.

That's what I mean when I say that Greer is showing signs of her expatriotism. Nobody who lived in Australia in 1990 would say that our involvement in the Gulf war was 'mysterious', whether they were for it or against it.
posted by rory at 8:54 AM on October 17, 2002


I was under the impression that Australia can protect herself. The few Australians I have met are extremely cool. They have a fierce independence of mind and a great sense of humor, a love of life almost unequaled to anyone.

"C'mon, you invading bastards! Come and get us, we dare ya! Sure, our coastline is fuckin' enormous and practically impossible to defend, but our independence of mind is fierce, mate, it's bloody fierce! And! We love life! Raahhhhhhhh!"
posted by rory at 9:04 AM on October 17, 2002


What rory said, both about Greer not speaking for Australia in any way (I'd say the same applies to the unctuous Clive James, too) and about there being obvious reasons for Aus's involvement in the Gulf War.

the US has proved it's not interested in protecting Australia

Is there some evidence for this somewhere? That's a worrying statement to me. After all, to whom is Australia going to turn for military assistance, should the need arise? England? HA! Too far, too slow, too weak, too likely to weasel out.

(On preview: what rory said again about invaders and that terrible weapon, independence of mind!)
posted by sennoma at 9:12 AM on October 17, 2002


Fair enough rory.

Clavdivs - if you read the Greer article you'll find the arguments I'm talking about.

(snark) yeah summer,we will protect your back.

I have no doubt that the US will only offer its protection and support when it feels fit, and will not feel under any obligation to support those countries that have supported the US in the past. I just wonder why Tony Blair doesn't realise that.
posted by Summer at 9:14 AM on October 17, 2002


Um - when I wrote "Greer is showing signs of her expatriotism", I meant, of course, "expatriatism".

Expatriotism is the last refuge of the ex-scoundrel.
posted by rory at 9:23 AM on October 17, 2002


clavdivs: I use to distrust Islam. But i am educating my self to its virtues. And i hope that those virtues will prevail and not the terrorist aspirations of a small segment of Islamic fundamentalists bent on world domination.

Well said. I wish everyone were as willing to educate themselves before scattering ill-founded opinions.

gompa: When, for example, have you ever seen any talk of the Ismailis, a large and very liberal Shia sect? What about the millions of followers of Sufism - who are considered deviants (or even infidels) by more fundamentalist sects?

You're generalizing just as much as the people you complain about. There are nonliberal (and violent) Ismailis as well as pacific followers of the Aga Khan, in Tajikistan for instance: "The establishment of Islamic government in Afghanistan led by Mujahideen factions gave a boost to Islamic fundamentalist groups in Tajikistan. The Gorno Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast, which is populated by the Ismailis and where the influence of Islamist groups has been strong, declared itself as Badakhshan Autonomous Republic in April 1992." (From this article.) And Sufis come in all flavors, including the fanatical and violent, like the Naqshbandi who fought Russia for decades in the Northern Caucasus and the Sanusis who fought the Italians in Libya. (You might also want to check out the history of the Mahdi in Sudan.)
posted by languagehat at 9:37 AM on October 17, 2002


it'd be exactly the kind of over-simplification I'm arguing against. Were I to take quotes from Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, David Koresh, Timothy McVeigh, etc., and post 'em all in a row, would that represent American religious thought?

The text i gleaned these quotes from does address Christian zealots. but these quotes where written before most of your american examples where around.
posted by clavdivs at 9:44 AM on October 17, 2002


languagehat: thanks for the links. (I'm a little skeptical of the first one, incidentally; appears to be virulently pro-Indian w/r/t Kashmir, to the point of grossly exaggerating the crimes of Kashmiri separatists and totally ignoring the excesses of the Indian army. Makes me doubt its other info.)

Anyway, my point was simply that Islam is no more monolithic in its theology than, say, Christianity, and that all the talk of "Muslim" violence and terror blurs this fact. It'd be kind of like if the IRA's actions were attributed to "European Catholic" radicals.
posted by gompa at 10:01 AM on October 17, 2002


gompa: Yeah, I know that's what you were saying, and I certainly agree, but I thought a little further discrimination was in order. Sufism is no more monolithic than Islam (and possibly even less, depending on how broadly you define "Sufism"). I have a similar reaction when people talk about the right of self-determination for, say, the Georgians (ex-USSR, that is): but the Georgians treat the Ossetians, Meskhi Turks, Abkhaz, etc. etc., at least as badly as the Russians treated them! Not to say the idea of self-determination is necessarily wrong, but perspective is all-important. (A classic case was the Hungarians in the Hapsburg Empire, who forced Vienna to create a dual monarchy in 1867, with Hungarian on an equal basis with German; result: things got better for the Hungarians and a lot worse for the Slovaks, Rumanians, etc., whom Budapest treated far worse than Vienna had.)
posted by languagehat at 10:27 AM on October 17, 2002


where does it say "Australia: we wont protect her." Maybe it is just my opinion, but I was under the impression that Australia can protect herself.

clavdivs, thanks for the nice comments about Aussies, but this is a gross misunderstanding of the US/Australia military alliance (ANZUS*).
Thirty second summary: In WWII, US involvement in SE Asia helps protect Australia from Japanese invasion, Americans take over UK sphere of influence post war. US gains a permanent strategic influence over the Australian continent, South Pacific, East Indian Ocean, Southern Ocean and much of Antarctica, plus a solid partner/purchaser of US military hardware, and some choice real estate in the southern hemisphere for intelligence gathering (handy for spy satellites etc). Australia, which has pretty much the same land+sea defence requirements of the US though only 7% of the population, gets to save some money on defence, tag along for fun adventures in foreign lands and hope like hell that the Yanks will have some surplus resources to save our arse again, if required.

*Ironically, New Zealand pretty much screwed themselves out of US protection by imposing a ban on nuclear materiel in the eighties; they now piggyback via "Closer Defence Relations" with Australia.

[trying to save this thread from Islam 101, Chapter Sixty-Seven]

Re Bali, and US media coverage (per yesterday's thread). More colour pieces are coming out now, like that from WaPo linked above and this from the NYT today. Prominent links to this wire report in the Age seem to have provoked an unusual editorial disclaimer -- good that they didn't take down a heavily cited piece though. This piece in the Australian (national Murdoch broadsheet) gives an interesting perspective on the initial media coverage. Bali's remoteness and thankfully undeveloped communication infrastructure made it hard to get news crews in and footage out. Rational commentary has been hindered by the complex motives of those who acted and those who didn't, as well described by i_cola today and in the first response thread five days ago. What's more, in a situation analogous to the "falling people" of the WTC, the gut-churning carnage and emotional trauma of relatives, witnesses and wounded constrained coverage in the interest of sensitivity.

Sorry to rave on, but I highly recommend that article in the Australian for those interested in how the mass-media deals with momentous news under difficult circumstances.
posted by stinglessbee at 10:34 AM on October 17, 2002


the US has proved it's not interested in protecting Australia

Is there some evidence for this somewhere?


What Greer is getting at is the East Timor debacle. If you recall, Indonesia invaded in 1999 after East Timor had voted for independence. Australia wanted to offer military assistance to stop the horrific killing that was going on, as part of the UN, but was reluctant to do so without US support and the US wasn't so keen. Afterwards, although the US contributed to the peace-keeping effort, it left it to Australia and other countries to stump up the cash.

Which is strange considering that the US was so keen to get involved in a similar situation in Kosovo. So why is this? Perhaps these links might offer a clue.
posted by Summer at 10:56 AM on October 17, 2002


sorry rory, missed your reference to NZ pulling out of ANZUS
posted by stinglessbee at 10:57 AM on October 17, 2002


well, i see. what can be done to make Australia more self-reliant concerning defense. more weapons? protection from what? terrorists (good help them if they strike Australia) Invasion from another country? I would venture that any foreign power that sent it's landing barges towards Australia would be blown outta the water. Do you need more aircraft to do this? I am not trying to stir up anything, but what do Australians want or need as far as self defense goes. If it is for the U.S. to get out of this sphere of influence, do you want weapons? what can we do? because we wont give up this "war on Terror". These fundamentalists are hell bent on conversion and annihilation.

i agree, east timor was a nightmare. But I am talking about Australia protecting her mainland.

"But when you control
most of the world
you cannot stop

it has been managed before
so you are expected to manage it again...

And now East Timor
where in 1977
the Indonesian minister admits
perhaps 80,00 might have been killed
that is to say one person out of eight
by his own government's paracommandos

these gentle midnight faces
the beetles which crowd their eyes
from 1975 to 1977

the New York Times index
entires for East Timor
dropped from six columns

to five lines...

Which the wajang koelit
through centuries of alien occupation (the Portuguese

knowing only the word rapio)
makes no mention of the true sage
for whom light is darkness..."

-Peter Dale Scott, From 'Coming to Jakarta'
posted by clavdivs at 11:15 AM on October 17, 2002


The barbaric attacks taking place in the name of Islam (which can be translated as 'peace') scares the living daylights out of me, but is just a first reaction. The gung-ho militarism and revenge seen in some comments in this thread worries me nearly as much, maybe because of the lack of understanding of the opponent which it demonstrates. As a first reaction, tho', I can sympathise: as a strategy, it will compound and prolong our agony. We clearly haven't found the key yet.

Sun-Tzu said: "Know your enemy and know yourself; in a hundred battles, you will never be defeated." [He may have been unaware of the asymmetrical war which has been declared on the West, but terror was likely a part of early historic warfare in the East.]

We seem determined to continue fighting a 'symmetrical' war: as has been pointed out before, we are looking for the key in the wrong place.

We obviously have to ask: "Why do they commit mass murder? Why have so many become radicalised?" IMO, future historians will see militant islamic terrorists as the vanguard of the anti-globalisation movement. I am no apologist for murderers, but I think I need to do more than merely condemn. Why have we not managed, in the century or more when the West has had massive influence in the MidEast, to support democratic & pluralist tendecies?

Please understand this: I do not attempt to promote the terrorists - only understand them.
posted by dash_slot- at 1:25 PM on October 17, 2002


what is to understand about terrorists?

"We are not fighting so that the enemy recognizes us and offers us something. We are fighting to wipe out the enemy."

-Hussein Mussavi.

IMO, future historians will see militant islamic terrorists as the vanguard of the anti-globalisation movement.

this is...well, stupid. they want global domination. Many Islamic scholars believe the modern Islamic terrorist is akin to Hassan Sabbah. and we must relize that they do not speak for Islam...Omar Kayyam lived during Sabbahs time and it is posited that they knew of another.

section:XIII of the 'Art of War' is more relevant to these times then estimates. (though the whole work is relevant)
posted by clavdivs at 2:22 PM on October 17, 2002


<derail>
Ironically, New Zealand pretty much screwed themselves out of US protection by imposing a ban on nuclear materiel in the eighties; they now piggyback via "Closer Defence Relations" with Australia.

As an ally during the 80's you'd think the US would/could have shared with NZ which ships that were docking at her ports had nuclear war heads on board or where nuclear powered, this wasn't happening and the citizens felt it wasn't worth the risk of being bombed by the USSR if it ever came to that.
The nuclear ban went up, US wouldn't tell, ANZUS ended.

Its also interesting to note that New Zealand's anti-nuclear stance may mean that NZ will never enter into free-trade deal with the United States.
</derail>
posted by X-00 at 2:29 PM on October 17, 2002


Clav, I have refrained many times from aggressively attacking your opinions, as I don't believe that it helps the discussion. I may not like what you say, but i won't call it stoopid. That's a rebounder. (",)
We do need to understand the recruiting pool from which terrorists come. Else we are doomed, together or separately.

Do you not get what i'm saying: they (the mullahs, the disaffected, the terrorists - explicitly, in bin Laden's case) want us out of 'their' lands. As I understand it, they (the same 'they') want no part of our capitalist consumerist ways: no Mickey D's, no Coke (types 1 & 2), no Nike, no 'net, no Hollywood...you get that. In the absence of any form of democracy, where the people can speak, don't you think we should leave em to it?
posted by dash_slot- at 2:36 PM on October 17, 2002


i called your idea stupid dash, your not a stupid. Hell, i have/had stupid ideas. but your right, it is unsettling and I'm glad you where more mature then i have been in retort.

I agree, get the micky D's out if they want. But alot of Arabic people want certain western goods and services. The Japanese, for example are great assimilators, they take what they like and need and leave the rest. I respect this. I think this is basic on the individual level. I watch little television (except BBC stuff etc on PBS. IMO the English are probably the funniest people in the world) I don't go to fast food anymore, (well a few times a year).

you miss my point, the extremists want to:

1. take over arabic countries

2. take over the rest of the world through other submission or killing.

consumerism is just the visible target. a Marxist could say that this consumerism is reinforcing "false consciousness".

capitalists call it advertisements.

what the key is is for the individual to make her/his own choice.
posted by clavdivs at 4:17 PM on October 17, 2002


this feels like an action replay.

hama7 - 'This is another case of "she deserved the rape because her skirt was too short" logic.'

possibly there are people on 'the other side' who think in a monotone way, eg. if you are not with us, you are against us etc.

'Australians and Americans, as well as all civilised people on the face of the earth are squarely against barbarians who practise random terror.'

Don't lets forget about State sponsored terrorism, now/again. old links, still apply.

jonvaughan- '"instill the same terror in the arab street"'

that would of course be terrorism.

it seems whoever did this does not want indonesia to be a tourist destination for australians. i imagine this would not be good news for the local economy. does all the money stay in bali (hindu area), or go overseas?
there is plenty of religious strife in indonesia, but not in bali, until now(?).
'In the past four years, religious conflicts between Muslims and Christians have erupted in several Indonesian areas, in particular the eastern regions of the Moluccas islands and in Poso in central Sulawesi. These battles have left more than 5,000 people dead, according to official estimates. Another 1,200 people, mainly ethnic Chinese, were killed during 1998 rioting in Jakarta, the national capital, shortly before the ouster of President Suharto.

Bali has remained immune to such turmoil. Literally an island of stability in a turbulent region, Bali and its mythic Indian Ocean beaches last year drew nearly 1.5 million foreign tourists, about 40 percent of Indonesia's total, according to the Bali Tourist Authority. That revenue helped make the island among the richest places in the country.'

Does rich = influential in Indonesian society?

Another question, how does (Roman Catholic) ETimor fit into this? FIIK.
posted by asok at 4:24 PM on October 17, 2002


X-OO, it's not simply a matter of trust in an ally or not. The problem is that the USSR -- or any other enemy -- could observe dockings at NZ ports. Ships that came there would not be nuclear, q.e.d.

Understand terrorists? Well, it does help to understand their mindset, their motivations, and their methods and organization. Indeed, it's practically a requirement, Sun Tzu style, that we do so in both political and military terms. The word "understand" can be stretched to mean "empathize", though, or even "sympathize" and a lot of people have implicitly been doing that. I think it's important to call people when they do that.

As for Australian defense policy, I think it's clear that they're doing about as much as they can. Indeed, with the acquisition of an F-111 wing or two (I forget if it's complete or not), they have an unparallelled strategic strike capability, and they certainly have top-notch ships and troops. The basic problem they have, though, is that they're a small population, only around 8% the size of the US. Even at high rates of defense spending they can only do so much. In recent years they have definitely sought closer military ties with the US, with the full understanding that Indonesia represents strategic interests for the US that might conflict with their own. At the same time they've worked to join and strengthen regional groupings such as ASEAN, and with Indonesia's baby steps toward a fully civilian democracy, there's still plenty of upside in that approach.

As I pointed out in the prior thread, the idea of Indonesia invading Australia isn't nearly as imminent a problem as a collapsed, fragmented, warring Indonesia. (For one thing, Indonesia spends less on its military than Singapore. Chew on that.) And from where I sit, anyway, the East Timor debacle was a classic Clinton foreign-policy fuck-up. At the larger scale, this was clearly the first and best opportunity to force the Indos to spin off the territory -- it hadn't been weaker in a generation. But they were pre-occupied with other concerns such as nurturing democracy, or at least its appearance, and the Clinton administration was itself never weaker against Congress and knew they couldn't come asking for money then. This reflected American opinion at the time, too, which was odd since we'd hardly ever been more swimming in money, but we all know that Bush campaigned for two years on the premise of no more nation-building.

I think it's extraordinary that Australia was able to press Indonesia for co-chair authority on the investigation (which has now been joined by at least four other countries including the FBI and Scotland Yard). It's obviously been a big face-losing event for Indonesia. The long-term worry is that yes, this will inevitably strengthen the hand of the central government and especially the military even as a true depoliticization seemed in sight. It's difficult to say what that means for Australia and the region -- we want Indonesia to hang together, but not a return to repressive dictatorship.
posted by dhartung at 4:28 PM on October 17, 2002


asok - bad misquote of me there.

"instill the same terror in the arab street" is originally from BentPenguin's post. In my post I'm suggesting that this is a troll. Surely nobody in their right mind would otherwise genuinely say that?
posted by jonvaughan at 1:28 AM on October 18, 2002


Another question, how does (Roman Catholic) ETimor fit into this? FIIK

Religion isn't part of it. The bomb happened in Indonesia. The biggest foreign-policy problem Australia has had to deal with in modern times has been to do with Indonesia's invasion of East Timor. Greer is arguing that Australia was stitched up by the US in regards to state terrorism in its own back yard, and therefore Australia's willingness to spend lots of defence-budget cash on supporting the US's never-ending war on terror is an unequal partnership.

And from where I sit, anyway, the East Timor debacle was a classic Clinton foreign-policy fuck-up.

True. But it goes back much farther than that and you know it.
posted by Summer at 3:35 AM on October 18, 2002


Actually, it's not true that it was a Clinton fuck-up. Clinton was the only U.S. President who actually helped - a lot. It was a classic every-single-U.S.-President-since-1974 fuck-up. Kissinger and Gerald Ford being the ones who consented to the Indonesian invasion.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 4:11 AM on October 18, 2002


More worthwhile comment from the Guardian today comparing Bali to Luxor.

"Just as Luxor alienated Egyptians from the path of violence, so it is likely that Bali will have the same effect on Muslim Indonesians."

Or, he might have added, Warrington alienated supporters of the IRA. Let's hope so.
posted by grahamwell at 4:14 AM on October 18, 2002


Clinton was the only U.S. President who actually helped - a lot

Under Clinton, US policy became more pro-East Timor as the human rights abuses became unsupportable, but in reality it was a fudge.
posted by Summer at 5:00 AM on October 18, 2002


For anyone wanting to delve deeper into the complexities of this whole situation [in terms of the Bali bombing], this article [via So Many Islands...] is a good read.

I'd also like to correct my mistake with regard to tourism figures in an earlier comment. Bali contibutes USD5.4Bn to the annual RI tourism income which is 35% of the total for the whole country. More details here including some interesting points on the development of Bali as a tourist destination & corruption/cronyism past & present.
posted by i_cola at 6:16 AM on October 18, 2002


dash_slot: In the absence of any form of democracy, where the people can speak, don't you think we should leave em to it?

Not sure what you mean by "leave em to it." Do you mean that the extremists and terrorists should determine whether McDonalds, Coke, et al. are available in a given country? What about the (doubtless many more) people who want them? As clavdivs said: what the key is is for the individual to make her/his own choice.

But I may have misunderstood you.
posted by languagehat at 8:06 AM on October 18, 2002


"dash_slot: In the absence of any form of democracy, where the people can speak, don't you think we should leave em to it?

Not sure what you mean by "leave em to it." Do you mean that the extremists and terrorists should determine whether McDonalds, Coke, et al. are available in a given country? What about the (doubtless many more) people who want them? As clavdivs said: what the key is is for the individual to make her/his own choice.

But I may have misunderstood you."


Actually, l-hat, you have me right. How seriously I was saying it (as in 'playing Devil's Advocate' against myself), I'm not sure: I'm trying to think of ways of gaining consent. That is an almost intractable problem in societies which don't hold to pluralist notions, as we in the West do. In the end, if the people of these totalitarian, quasi-fascist lands want change, it is up to them to claim it: we cannot impose a market economy on a statist society (look at China for an example of neo-Fascism in a non Western context). Until they do, it is not safe - and in many cases not ethical - for Western corporations to do business with them, and maybe we _should_ leave. It is not worth lives to make money there. In all honesty, the market economy has had profound effects on the sophisticated consumers of the West, where choice - of goods as much as politicians, services as much as entertainments - is a given, and still remains imperfect. If the people of these states do not want us, and have no way of voicing their dissent, then democracy should precede, or at the most go hand-in-hand, with the development of markets. Markets first equals colonialism, and that has been shown to be a failure.
So, I do agree, "the key is is for the individual to make her/his own choice" - but we cannot honourably expect market choices before democratic ones.

Just my 2 cents (",)
posted by dash_slot- at 3:34 PM on October 21, 2002


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