Contrary to popular belief, “the Greens are not a rebirth of the Left.”
Instead, they are the birth of a new type of conservatism, whose
fundamental world view is shaped by “humanity’s relationship with
nature,” writes David McKnight in The Sydney Morning Herald. “The old
paradigm of Right, meaning conservative, and Left, meaning radical, is
eroding,” because a conservative world view no longer means focusing on
the pillars of race, church and nation. Traditionalism, in terms of
environmental ecology; personal fulfilment that’s not based around
consumerism or money; and sustainability are areas where green politics
and conservative ideals interact. “If the Greens are to consolidate
their gains and expand, they need to recognise that part of their
message is a conservative one.”

The world has two choices: we either accept an Iran with nuclear
weapons, or we “use force to destroy its capacity,” says Michael
Costello in The Australian. “Diplomacy has not
worked and will not work,” and neither will sanctions. Early talk by
Europe’s big three – France, Britain and Germany – to go hard at Iran
by taking them to the UN security council to propose to begin with
sanctions, is now softening. An attack by the US – which would be
quick and relatively simple – against Iran’s nuclear facilities would
no doubt enrage the Shia world. But leaving Iran alone to go about its
nuclear business is equally as disastrous. “All in all, a terrifying
mess,” but one that needs to be decided quickly. “So let’s not fool
ourselves. Choose.”

Prime Minister John Howard must be “relaxed and comfortable” as he
enters 2006, even though, and incredible as it seems, “the government
has given us absolutely no idea of its policy agenda for the next
couple of years,” says John Hewson in The Australian Financial Review
(subscription required).
Australia can’t afford to fritter around on the policy fringes, keeping
an eye only on the short term when there’s so much to be done, says
Hewson. Aboriginal reconciliation, health, aged care and tax reform
are just a few of them. And although it’s great to see the PM at the
cricket over summer, cricket wins can be “ephemeral; and the victories
can be pyrrhic.” Please Prime Minister, don’t squander this
opportunity.

Old media companies are suffering from some intense pain right now, but
we mustn’t fool ourselves into thinking that the internet means it’s
all over for them, because “old media will command audiences for many
years yet,” says The Economist.
True, the internet will eventually break the old giants like
TimeWarner, News Corp and Viacom’s grip on the media and
entertainment industry, but not for a long while yet. The task
for old media is first to protect its advertising revenues by
amassing audiences online and, secondly, to force people away from
free entertainment high in advertising, and make them
pay for it. It won’t be easy, but then again, it never has been.

Controversial historian and holocaust revisionist David Irving is
now languishing in an Austrian jail for his views. “Irving’s views are
repulsive and wrong,” and a “deeply offensive crank.” His opinions are
indefensible; “his right to hold them, however, must be defended,” says
Ben Macintyre in The Times
(UK). It’s always an easy task to defend freedom of speech when the
speaker’s arguments are shared, but when someone like Irving – whose
views have caused “deep
anguish to survivors of the genocide and their families” – invokes
freedom of speech, the task becomes tougher. The vast majority of
people know the holocaust happened, but we “should not need laws to
enforce that knowledge.”


“We hear a lot about the quality of life in Hong Kong, but what about
the quality of death?” asks Bernard Chan in The South China Morning
Post
(subscription required). Compared to other Western countries,
particularly the United States, Hong Kong’s death industry is
decidedly second-rate, with funeral homes “so run-down, shoddy and
depressing that you have to wonder whether this is really any way to
honour and respect the departed.” Thanks to a huge land shortage, and
the huge cost of a grave site, only about 10% of Hong Kong’s dead are
buried. But it’s not only a shortage of land, says Chan, “but a
plentiful supply of superstition” – for in Hong Kong, funeral homes are
about as popular “as sewage plants or prisons.” The people of Hong Kong
“do deserve better.”

There’s nothing anti-American about holding Western democracies to a
higher standard than we do “unpleasant dictators and self-serving
tyrants whose regimes scar the global landscape.” But we also need to
remember that “abuses that serve as an exception in Washington are the
rule for many regimes around the world,” says Philip Stephens in The Financial Times.
Attacking the White House so often serves as an excuse not to examine
the “gross abuses of regimes in Africa, Asia and, yes, Europe.” Abuses
in Zimbabwe, North Korea and Syria all go unnoticed – at least
seemingly – by many liberals, when there is something more pressing in
the US – like occasional torture or unlawful detention. But please,
“let us not pretend that human rights begin and end with Mr Cheney.”

Like most European countries, France favours a judicial approach over the US-style “war on terror,” writes Marc Perelman in Foreign Policy.
“But the French blend of aggressive prosecution, specialised
investigators, and intrusive law enforcement is unique in Europe.” And
French authorities claim that by using their “forward-leaning arsenal”
they have thwarted a number of terrorist plots in recent years,
including alleged chemical attacks planned by Chechen operatives
against Russian interests in Paris to a recently reported ploy by
French Muslims linked to a radical Islamist groups in Algeria to target
one of the capital’s airports. “Though the policy has gone through
trial and error, the early warning helped fashion what has proven to be
a fairly successful—though controversial—counter terrorist response.”

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