Neil James, Executive Director, Australia Defence Association, writes:I’ll keep this short because John Richardson (yesterday, comments) seems to have a problem with explanations even when he misunderstands them.
John is incorrect conceptually and legally in his citing of Blum & Heymann, etc, because they were essentially talking about human rights law in a non-war context, not the application of the laws of armed conflict (LOAC) as the specialist body of international humanitarian law applying to a war. I did caution against this commonplace pitfall but John must have skimmed over this part of the explanation.
I’ll continue to stick with Professor Don Rothwell of the ANU law school, as one of Australia’s only two or three academic experts on LOAC, when discussing whether bin Laden was killed by legitimate military action or not. Moreover, why John oddly thinks Professor Rothwell’s views are “alleged” when even Crikey logically consulted him as an authority last week is equally puzzling (perhaps another case of missed explanation).
John is also incorrect factually about a non-existent and indeed impossible “al-Qaeda family” function (perhaps a barbecue?) supposedly hosted by Ronald Reagan on the White House lawns in 1985.
First, al-Qaeda was not founded, even nominally, until at least mid 1989 — after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in February that year and after Reagan had retired early the year before.
al-Qaeda was not actually active until late 1992 (in Yemen) and bin Laden’s fatwa declaring war on the US (but not as al-Qaeda) was not until 1998. al-Qaeda’s involvement in the first World Trade Centre attack (1993), the Khobar Towers bombing (1996) and the Bosnian War in the mid to late 1990s seems to have been peripheral at best, although they were the main force behind the US embassy attacks in East Africa (1998) and the attack on the USS Cole in Aden (late 2000).
Perhaps, like many, all Muslim activists look alike to John and he has confused the anti-Soviet mujahidin in Afghanistan with the Islamist al-Qaeda which later evolved from the fringes of non-Afghan veterans of that war. Hence the popularity in certain extremist circles of the propaganda myth that the CIA or other Western intelligence agencies somehow founded or supported al-Qaeda in its early days. A myth that chronology and commonsense quickly disproves in detail.
Second, I think John will find that Reagan was referring to Nicaraguan freedom fighters against the Sandinista Marxist dictatorship when he described them (reasonably accurately in contemporary terms if not in US historical ones) as the “moral equivalents of America’s founding fathers”.
The bottom line about the death of Osama bin Laden is that terms like “execution” and even “assassination” are emotive and biased descriptors that do not apply to military combat conducted in accordance with LOAC. They do, of course, legitimately apply to the numerous murders and war crimes carried out by our current terrorist enemies because such terrorist actions do not even try to conform with either LOAC or broader international humanitarian law.
Not only is the wet floor a poor example to viewers, who no doubt now think it essential to hose the kitchen floor before starting on the family roast, but there have been numerous other serious examples of poor safety standards. This includes the use of sharp knives, cooking on open flames and heating liquids to boiling point — it is only a matter of time before someone tries this at home.
But worst of all is the delay in submitting food to the judges — I hear that MasterChef devotees are waiting half an hour before proffering the evening meal for their family’s approval, potentially provoking domestic violence.
I just hope that Channel 10 has a top legal team to handle the impending class action and try to justify their “unacceptable risk taking behaviour”.
Yet for all that intelligence, it’s clear that you are constantly vulnerable to columnist Andrew Bolt. Actually, it’s more than that — he sends you into the foetal position, doesn’t he?
So let me explain this to you simply: if you don’t like Andrew, ignore him. Stop reading him, or watching his television appearances, or complaining about him. With his new Sunday morning television show on Network Ten, the Bolta is more a commercial product than ever before. So if you want to disadvantage him, as you clearly do, don’t buy the product. Let me repeat that for you, slowly this time: Ignore him. Don’t tune in. Pretend he doesn’t exist.
Of course, that would mean all of us who do share Andrew’s view of the world will likewise choose to keep reading his column and watching his television show and supporting him in his work. That is called choice, and freedom of speech, and democracy. And Crikey readers support that, don’t you?
Rebecca Dunstan writes: Jason Whittaker’s comment about Andrew Bolt improving the fortunes of Meet the Press may be accurate, but I believe it is more the case that for the first time in a long time, there was actually an advert for the show on Channel 10.