tip off

Osama bin Laden’s warranted execution

Osama bin Laden:

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.

MasterChef:

Justin Templer writes: Re. “Did MasterChef slip up on OH&S? Wet kitchen draws viewer fire” (yesterday, item 16). You are quite right to raise the issue of serious safety breaches on the MasterChef set.

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”.

The Bolt Report:

Marcus Vernon writes: Re. “Media briefs: Bolt’s Report debuts … Age staff rally … NYT’s Hobbit correction …” (yesterday, item 17). Readers of Crikey are really smart. I know that because you all keep patting each other on the back, congratulating yourselves on how sophisticated, wittty, ethical and informed you all are.

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.

7
  • 1
    klewso
    Posted Tuesday, 10 May 2011 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    I just like satire and a good laugh.

  • 2
    Perry Gretton
    Posted Tuesday, 10 May 2011 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    Marcus Vernon, are you seriously suggesting that Andrew Bolt is off-limits to anyone who disagrees with him? Are there others who should be ignored, presumably because they espouse your world view?

    It would be a strange, unenlightened world if we only listened to those we agreed with.

  • 3
    Jobby
    Posted Tuesday, 10 May 2011 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    Dear Marcus Vernon,

    Let me explain this to you simply: if you don’t like Crikey, ignore it. Stop reading it, or complaining about it.

    That is called choice, and freedom of speech, and democracy.

  • 4
    stephen martin
    Posted Tuesday, 10 May 2011 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    I am not sure about the LOAC, but essentially the US killed, assassinated, or whatever a villain who richly deserved his fate.

    However the military action taken, without consent, on the territory of an ally while understandable is surely not legal. This was no case of urgent pursuit!

    The US took the action it did because it could, and damn the consequences, and who could blame them.

  • 5
    klewso
    Posted Tuesday, 10 May 2011 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

    I mean it, I like it - people like us - “Andrew” is our own “Roy Mallard” - isn’t he?

  • 6
    rubiginosa
    Posted Tuesday, 10 May 2011 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

    Choice, and freedom of speech for Marcus Vernon — BUT NONE FOR YOU!

  • 7
    Meski
    Posted Wednesday, 11 May 2011 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    @Marcus: freedom of choice includes being able to argue with Andrew, and people who share his worldview. (Weltanschauung if you want to be pretentious) Not viewing him is an ostrich-like approach, which encourages his followers to believe they must be right, because they see no disagreement.

    @Justin: maybe, but I had no idea that boiling water was regarded as an OH&S issue. Most of us would carry out this every day for making a cup of tea, for instance. (and the boiler for my coffeemaker is set to 105.7 degrees C (yes, it is pressurised) (coffeemakers who protest that this is too high should be reassured that it has dropped considerably by the time it hits the group-head, its about 94 degrees there.)

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