Wednesday, November 25, 2015
Why Islamic violence? Leftist "New Matilda" has no answers
Megan Giles, who wrote the article I excerpt below, has a significant academic background. It is however a solidly Leftist one, so we cannot expect much in the way of balance or academic rigour from her. She mainly seems to be a do-gooder. Anyway, she knows a bit about history. And she parades that history as if it excuses or at least explains the current epidemic of Muslim violence. She spells out the tired old comment that Christians and Christian countries have been violent in the past too. As if nobody knew that!
There she is. Isn't she gorgeous?
But it is not history we have to deal with. It is the present. So why is the present-day world's flood of political violence coming from Muslims?
She seems to think that it is Muslims "getting even" with the West for colonialism. But de-colonization took place around 50 years ago. And, after some initial eruptions, the decolonized world was mostly peaceful. What has suddenly caused it to erupt? And why are Indo-China and other non-Muslim ex-colonies not erupting? And why are the people being killed at the moment overwhelmingly Muslim, rather than the wicked colonists?
Megan has not apparently thought of those questions. Her conventional Leftist hates are all she has to explain anything, whether they fit or not. She is a procrustean.
I and many others point to the way in which ISIS and other violent Muslims are just doing what the Koran says. Megan thinks that cannot be the explanation as Christians have been similarly vicious at times too. But that is a non-sequitur. A particular type of behaviour can arise from many causes. And that normal human selfishness has caused Christians to GO AGAINST New Testament teachings proves nothing. But Muslims don't have to do that. The Jihadis are not going against ANYTHING in their religion. Their deeds and faith are in harmony. So we at least need to note that.
And that makes a difference to what adherents of the two religions hear. Both Mullahs and priests tell their adherents to do as their holy books say. So Christian priests overwhelmingly preach peace and kindness while the Mullahs overwhelmingly preach conquest. And preaching can be influential. Why do it otherwise? For most people -- Christian or Muslim -- it goes in one ear and out the other. They usually accept the wisdom of it but don't act on it. But some do. So on the one hand we have the provision of Christian hospitals and schools while on the other we have gruesome violence.
So what the Koran says is indeed central to the Muslim problem -- because it is what most of the Mullahs preach -- and what the Mullahs preach is influential.
But why is it that we have the upsurge of violence now? Megan does not even attempt to tell us. She had no answers about the causes of Muslim violence at all.
But I think the cause is pretty clear. It is in that history that Megan thinks she knows about. It is a product of ham-fisted European intervention. A skeletal outline:
It all started with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Afghanistan had been a reasonably secular State up until then. But it was part of the Ummah, part of the Muslim world. So it was devout Muslims who chased the Soviets out. The invasion aroused the devout Muslims and eventually made them the only effective force in the land. And they used that power to transform Afghanistan into a Koranic State, a centre of Islamic righteousness and virtue.
And it might have stopped there except for the fact that the Afghan upheavals had attracted a very rich Saudi who became instrumental in defeating the Soviets: Osama bin Laden.
And Koranic virtue does preach attack on the infidel, the kuffar. So after helping to defeat the Soviets, Osama bin Laden was "feeling his oats" and sought new fields to conquer -- and consequently organized the attack on the exceedingly un-Muslim USA, with results we all know about.
And since then it has been push and counter-push. An Afghanistan-enmeshed organization -- Al Qaeda -- attacked the USA so the USA attacked Afghanistan in an attempt to root them out. And once the USA under George Bush was mobilized, they thought that the sabre-rattling coming from Iraq sounded dangerous too so decided that a pre-emptive war there was needed to avoid another "9/11".
But in both Afghanistan and Iraq, the Americans had no reasonable idea of an end-game. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, they assumed that destroying the hostile regime would enable them to give the grateful natives the blessings of democracy. But there is no history of democracy in the Middle East and no hankering for it. Instead there is a 4,000 year history of tyrannies. So the semi-democratic regimes set up by the Americans had no legitimacy in the eyes of the people and consequently had little control over anybody or anything. Instead we have had chaos.
But nobody likes chaos and many influential Muslims of the Middle East have put their hands up as the new tough-guy leader who will restore peace and unity -- and maybe even become the new Caliph. And that is what has been going on. Can it have escaped anyone's notice that 98% of the people dying are Muslims? Much of the the Middle East and North Africa is in the midst of a civil war to determine who the next tyrant will be. The people there want a strong tyrant not a wishy-washy democracy.
And amid those struggles aspiring leaders will do everything they can to acquire legitimacy. And attacks on the West are a good way of doing that. It enables the aspiring tyrants to claim Islamic righteousness. So what constitutes Islamic righteousness does matter. And we find that in the Koran.
And all the excitement of the struggle does catch the attention of people in the Western world whose ancestry is in Muslim lands. And a tiny minority decide that they want a part of the action.
So some of those go to Syria, while others attack individuals in their country of residence.
So is it reasonable to target the whole Muslim minority of a Western country in some way? I think it is. But no half measures will do. Tentative measures will just exacerbate the problem. The small minority of radicalized Muslims can do a lot of damage and cause a lot of disruption, social and otherwise. And the populations of Western countries are becoming increasingly intolerant of that, as they should. We wouldn't accept such disruption from anyone else so why should we accept it from young Muslims?
But how can we get violent young Muslims out of our countries? How do we detect in advance who they are? We cannot. So the only way of getting the violent young Muslims out of our countries is to get ALL Muslims out of our countries. I believe it will come to that. Muslim populations ARE a breeding-ground for terrorists and that undisputable fact endangers their continued long-term acceptance in Western countries.
Now listen to Megan. I have omitted her more sulphuric comments about Pauline Hanson:
Hanson states that the New Testament, unlike the Qur’an, is devoid of any violence, as if the relative peace and prosperity enjoyed by the Western world is somehow solely attributed to the teachings of Jesus Christ.
Hanson and many others fail to recognise the context of time, place and circumstance that permits the usurping of Quranic verses for such violence.
They fail to scrutinise what it is that separates the millions of Muslims, and millions of others of faith, who can read their sacred scriptures in their historical contexts, from those that totalise and literalise religious doctrine and wrongly champion it as the impetus for their savagery.
In the late 20th century, regimes across the Arab world shaped and utilised Islamic ideologies to solidify and mobilise support against Western liberalism. And so it goes, on and on through history. Past contexts magically transforming to suit present and future contexts.
When we place blame we go directly to the original source, without acknowledging how that source has been manipulated to accommodate contemporary political objectives.
Though all of this, in our current debate, is near-irrelevant. Focusing on the details of religious texts will lead us nowhere since we have, right in front of us, countless examples that help us understand the rise of Islamic State and specific historical, albeit complex and multi-faceted, justifications for North African and Middle Eastern violence.
Indeed what is missing from mainstream debates about contemporary terrorism is the very heavy historical baggage it carries.
Tony Blair has apologised for “mistakes” made during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The US government’s hasty state-building policies after the disbanding of the Iraqi army left thousands of young men angry, armed and unemployed.
Unfortunately, only few commentators will reach back far enough into history to examine the brutal, incendiary and utterly destructive legacy of colonialism in the Middle East to understand contemporary violence.
While ‘we’ in the West have moved on from colonialism and want everyone else to just ‘get over it’, post-colonial states were never given space to – they live its continuity in the neocolonial economic policies of the Washington Consensus and the ubiquity of a militarised national consciousness where violence pervades and reproduces.
The late Algerian psychiatrist Franz Fanon has written passionately on the impact of colonialism on the colonised individual’s psyche, and its propensity for creating violent separatist and regionalist factions, long after independence.
“At the individual level, violence is a cleansing force. It rids the colonized of their inferiority complex, of their passive and despairing attitude… Violence hoists the people up to the level of the leader.”
Despite the horrors of history committed on every continent, our right to anger and grieve over the bloodshed in Paris is doubtless. It must be denounced with the loudest possible voice and responded to with the strongest possible deliberation and vigilance.
Good people lost their lives because they represented the freedom we all hold dear, no matter our race, nationality or religion. Though we must fall short of dismay that Middle Eastern wars have somehow spilled over onto a bystanding Europe caught up in the crossfire.
These wars belong to the Great Powers and they always have. As Gordon Adams has noted, “France has been a central arena for the confrontation between Islam and political-religious Christian Europe for 1,300 years.”
The proceeding centuries were characterised by a vicious brand of colonialism under the guise of exporting a concept of citizenship that was highly exclusionary at home, and anti-Islamic domestic policies leaving hostility an omnipresence weaved through France’s social and political fabric.
Adams states, “France needs to undergo a deep self-examination, and a fundamental revision of the current practice of sidelining its large Muslim population, leaving them disaffected, poorly educated, underemployed, and ripe for recruitment to terrorism.”
All religious texts have the capacity to unite or divide humanity. Our conversation must start centering on the dark, ugly side of human nature and the contexts that breed violent extremists of which our own states are often complicit in.
Cory Bernardi: Australia must reconsider refugee intake in light of Paris attacks
Screening process for refugees is open to inaccuracies
The government must reconsider its decision to take an extra 12,000 refugees from Syria and Iraq in light of the Paris attacks, Liberal backbencher Cory Bernardi has said.
Bernardi told ABC TV on Monday he supported the initial cabinet decision to offer an additional 12,000 visas to refugees from Syria and Iraq, on top of the 13,750 existing humanitarian visa places.
But since this month’s attacks in the French capital, Bernardi has changed his mind.
“I do think that cabinet now needs to reconsider the decision to take in 12,000 additional refugees on the basis of evidence that’s come to light over the last week,” he said.
“In our previous refugee intake we’ve had examples where people who have been accepted as refugees have gone on to commit terrorist acts or planned terrorist acts in this country. Why do we think that suddenly this is going to be any different?”
Bernardi said the screening process for refugees was open to inaccuracies, as security agencies were unable to go to Syria to do background checks. He also objected to handing over the decision of who could come to Australia to the “bunch of unelected bureaucrats” at the United Nations refugee agency.
“A lot of the most persecuted minorities in the Middle East – the Jews, the Christians, the Yazidis – don’t even go to UNHCR camps, they don’t register there because they’re scared for their lives by the Muslim communities there,” Bernardi said.
He said he wanted a rethink of the way the whole system worked.
“I do believe we should be reassessing our refugee humanitarian intake,” the Liberal senator said, adding his views were shared by many Australians.
“For many years I’ve been voicing my concerns about extremist elements in the country and the lack of political will to confront that and of course I’ve been called all sorts of names for my trouble by my colleagues and the media,” Bernardi said.
“But the point is I’ve been right about it and it is now a widespread community sentiment. We have extremist elements at work in this country. Why risk bringing in more to add to their ranks, even potentially, and bear the financial and social burden that comes with that?”
Bernardi’s call to axe the 12,000 refugee intake was promptly shot down by the attorney general, George Brandis, who reiterated the government’s determination to proceed during a statement to the Senate condemning the Paris attacks.
“These attacks give no reason to reduce our commitment to helping those who flee the barbarism of Isil and other terrorists,” Brandis said during question time on Monday. “Indeed, they demonstrate more graphically why it is necessary, both to stand resolutely against Isil, and also, to help as best we can its many innocent victims, including the 12,000 Syrian refugees we have rightly committed to take.”
The immigration minister, Peter Dutton, told the House of Representatives’ question time 2,800 Syrian and Iraqi refugees were in the process of having health and security checks as part of the 12,000 intake.
“The Australian government has in place the most robust security screening measures in relation to those coming in under the humanitarian program and we will not resile from that one bit,” Dutton said.
He said the government would cast aside any application of those seeking to come into Australia under the humanitarian visa system if the application presented security concerns.
The first five of the 12,000 intake, a Syrian family, arrived in Perth last week, in line with the government’s promise to resettle the first group by Christmas.
But the New South Wales refugee resettlement coordinator, Peter Shergold, told ABC radio on Monday morning the lengthy security process refugees had to undertake could mean the bulk of the 12,000 visa holders would not be resettled until 2017.
“I’m working on the basis that the vast majority will come next year, in 12 or 18 months, not six months,” he said. “I think it’s appropriate that screening, security, character checks are all done before they arrive.”
Australian Greenies still not happy about coal compromise
They've rightly figured out that Australia's conservative government has in fact THWARTED international attempts to stop investments in coal. New generators are likely to use coal in poor countries only. New generators in advanced countries will be using gas anyhow
By Hannah Aulby, a clean energy campaigner for the Australian Conservation Foundation.
The Australian government has watered down an international deal on coal subsidies – essentially protecting the future profits of the Carmichael coal mine ahead of the best interests of our communities and environment.
Hailed as a ‘landmark’ deal to reduce public subsidies to coal fired power stations, the agreement by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development aims to stop public financing of the dirtiest coal projects. In the past seven years, rich countries' export credit agencies have funded about $35 billion worth of coal. The Turnbull Government was looking to block the deal, but has come onside at the last minute with a caveat – that old dirty coal power plants can still be financed in 8 of the world’s poorest nations.
The Minerals Council of Australia, hardly champions of climate action and poverty reduction, welcomed the deal, saying that it paves the way for coal powered development. And Trade Minister Andrew Robb said the deal provided coal fired power to lift millions out of energy poverty.
Again Australia is getting left behind by a world ready to move beyond coal. As well as the international political intent shown at the OECD, international markets are moving. Global coal consumption has fallen 2-4% this year, including a 6% drop in China. This being the case, we have, in fact, passed peak coal. Demand is dropping, and yet Australia continues to champion the Carmichael mine as the future of low emissions development. Continuing down the mine shaft will only leave us with stranded assets in a dinosaur economy.
Domestically the markets are turning on coal too. New projects are struggling to attract private investment, as seen by the Victorian brown coal project in the Latrobe Valley that was just withdrawn by Chinese firm Shanghai Electric Australia as it failed to reach the first investment milestones.
Pfizer US tax escape suggests an opportunity for Australia
The tax-driven reverse merger of American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and Dublin-based Allergan to create the world's biggest drug firm is a timely reminder to Australian policymakers that they need to ensure the corporate tax system is internationally competitive.
Pfizer joins dozens of United States firms fleeing the penal US business tax system that charges a rate of up to 39 per cent on worldwide income, comprising federal and state corporate income taxes.
For a medium sized, capital importing economy such as Australia, it is an opportune time to reinforce that capital in a globalised world is increasingly mobile and firms will relocate to where they can make the best after tax returns for shareholders.
Under the tax "inversion" deal worth up to about $US155 billion unveiled on Monday, Pfizer will shift its corporate citizenship to low-tax Ireland, despite 56 per cent of shares in the new company belonging to US-based Pfizer shareholders. The merged company will trade on the New York Stock Exchange.
Even though the US Treasury will miss out on billions of dollars in tax revenue when Pfizer redomiciles, Pfizer chief executive Ian Read said the transaction was a "great deal for America" because the firm would continue to invest $US9 billion and employ 45,000 people in the US.
The Obama administration has taken incremental administrative attempts to block the wave of US companies like Pfizer, Burger King and a host of pharmaceutical firms involved in cross-border tax deals from escaping the US tax net.
The US government has had little success because the Treasury and Congress have failed to strike at the heart of the problem; an internationally uncompetitive tax code imposing high rates and incentivising firms to shift and stash profits in low-tax jurisdictions.
The political class in Canberra, business leaders and unions appear to be engaging in a healthy debate about the future of the country's tax system, including corporate tax.
Australia's 30 per cent rate is more competitive than the US, especially once dividend imputation credits for shareholders are taken into account.
Ken Henry's tax review commissioned by the former Labor government recommended cutting the rate to 25 per cent to stoke investment and lift the wages of workers. Dr Henry found the incidence of company tax ultimately falls on workers.
In 2001, Australia had the ninth lowest corporate tax rate in the developed world and below the OECD's unweighted average of 32.5 per cent. The OECD average has since fallen to 25 per cent and Australia has slipped to 28th, as economies like the United Kingdom, Ireland and New Zealand have cut corporate rates.
Pfizer expects the combined maker of Botox and Viagra to have an adjusted tax rate of about 17 per cent in Ireland, compared to the 25 per cent rate it currently pays in the US after allowing for deductions.
"The threat of succumbing to US tax rates has meant that Pfizer has been desperate for a deal outside the US," said Warwick Business School professor John Colley.
The White House and Congressional democrats criticised the move, while presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said inversion deals will leave US taxpayers "holding the bag".
The US not only has a high maximum rate, but unlike other economies, it takes corporate earnings overseas when they are repatriated home. This has led to the perverse situation of companies like cash cow Apple stashing large amounts of funds overseas and borrowing money at home to pay dividends.
As the mining boom winds down, Australia will need to retain and attract new sources of foreign capital into other sectors of the economy.
A competitive corporate tax system will be an important drawcard.
If literally dozens of tax-paying companies are running away from the home of capitalism and emptying the US Treasury's coffers, then Australia cannot afford to be too complacent.