Libya:

Justin Templer writes: Re. “Rundle: Libya … US move really a police intervention” (yesterday, item 1). In his interesting coverage of the Libyan situation Guy Rundle posits that the rebels are “reflexive, risk-taking, and radically oriented to the future and its possibilities”.

Maybe so — there was much in Rundle’s coverage that seemed to have been written by a posturing undergraduate. If I understood this bit: “really an idea, rather than an ensemble of material practices — then the fact that it might be capable of having its actions split, set against each other and rendered contradictory, does not occur” — I am sure I would agree.

No doubt Rundle is trying to get at the obvious contradictions in this here-we-go-again military action, such as:

  • Gaddafi was everyone’s friend until recently — especially of Italy and England, with juicy contracts and special hugs over the release of the Lockerbie bomber.
  • Gaddafi was until recently recognised diplomatically as the leader of Libya, yet suddenly he has turned into the enemy of his people, a maniacal and cruel despot. Did he metamorphose overnight?
  • As Rafiq Copeland (“The politics of intervention — why Libya and not elsewhere?“) points out, there is much injustice and oppression in the world. His example is Cote d’Ivoire, ridden by atrocity and corruption. My example would be Zimbabwe. No expensive cruise missiles going in there — yet it would probably only take one. Regime change and many thousands of lives saved for less than a million dollars.
  • And now the emergence of yet another Christian versus Muslim war. A Crusader war, as Gaddafi has cleverly tagged it, with yet more slaughter of Muslims by Christians, just like Iraq and Afghanistan. Grist to the radical mill.
  • The rebel forces “aligned” against Gaddafi are difficult to categorise — it seems that this might just be a rag tag uprising of the disaffected rather than a genuine popular movement.  But apparently no-one really knows, which is not comforting.  France has provided immediate recognition of the rebel army so as to sooner ascertain the political framework and where the power lies.
  • The Arab League has been blowing hot and cold over the intervention — first supporting the intervention, then saying it had gone too far, and then suggesting that it was possibly just right.

So, overall some fairly weak or even contrary arguments for engaging militarily in Libya. And to our Prime Minister, who has so recently pledged an emotional Australian “mateship” to America, I ask — can we this time please not follow them? We blindly followed Team America through Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. Enough.

Niall Clugston writes: There are so many things wrong with Rundle’s article on Libya. The most important is his estimation that “the Libyan revolution appears to have come within 12 hours of breathing its last”.

The ground war in Libya is a WW2-style war fought with WW2 (Soviet) weapons. The idea that a seriously defended Benghazi could not resist tanks is flies in the face of military history. We need not expect a Stalingrad or a Breslau, but if the rebels are all that Rundle thinks, surely they could last longer than a day!

Then there is Rundle’s assertion that the USA “had spent years cultivating” Gaddafi. Well, apart from a bombing raid that killed his adopted daughter, a decade of economic sanctions, and the prosecution of a rather flimsy terrorism case, I guess they did “cultivate” him…

And then there’s Rundle’s analysis of the “rather desperate need for the US not to have further drains on its resources”. As if the richest and strongest power in world history can’t cope launching a couple of airstrikes. Its difficulty with ragtag rebels in Iraq and Afghanistan is psychological, not military.

John Richardson writes: Benjamin Lee (yesterday, comments) asks “…why not take the opportunity that has fallen the West’s way and help to bring down at least one vile dictatorship? Is it not better to make one good choice and act than sit still to lament all the bad choices one has made?”

The stated purpose of the UN resolution was to enable international action to protect Libyan civilians, allegedly under threat from the Gaddafi regime, and not to remove Gaddafi. Naturally the Americans and the British immediately fashioned their interpretation of the UN resolution to suit their ambitions, which meant that Gaddafi had to go. Of course this, in turn, required the “coalition” to launch a war of aggression against the government of Libya. So much for protecting civilians: in the words of the recently deceased American historian, Howard Zinn: “modern warfare is the indiscriminate killing of civilians”.

Which brings me to the sheer folly of plotting the destruction of Gaddafi’s regime, without knowing what is likely to replace it (all parties profess little knowledge or understanding of the so-called “opposition”, including its membership and objectives) and whether it will produce a government any better for the people of Libya, than the one they currently have.

With Afghanistan flattened, Iraq destroyed, drones raining down on Pakistan and the people of Gaza forced to live in their open-air prison as millions of refugees from these war torn countries suffer the consequences of previous western “bad choices”, I think Benjamin, like all of us, would do well to show greater scepticism towards the humanitarianand caring statements stemming from the mouths of current western government representatives as they pass judgement on the crimes of petty dictators, whom many once called friend.

Christopher Pyne:

ABC Radio National’s Future Tense presenter Antony Funnell writes: Re. “Aunty apologises to Pyne — again — over offensive Q&A tweet” (yesterday, item 5). To joke about somebody’s s-xuality is inappropriate and to be regretted.

But to suggest as Tom Cowie does that “Aunty has form ridiculing Pyne” is a bit rich coming from Crikey.

I suggest that you look at your own First Dog on the Moon and its regular portrayal of the  politician in question.

Nicolas Brasch writes: The most disturbing aspect of the Pyne/Tweet story was the revelation that some 19,000 tweets are received and that they go through “a complex moderation process … [with] producers selecting the best to display on the show.”

If what we see are the best, I would hate to see the worst, because I’m yet to see more than one or two that offer insight or amuse.

Polls:

Dominic Kelly writes: Re. “Labor still in trouble, but has Gillard got away with it on carbon?” (yesterday, item 2). I’m a big fan of Bernard Keane’s work, but he seriously needs to follow the lead of Annabel Crabb and George Megalogenis and swear off commenting on polls for a while, be it Newspoll, Essential, Galaxy or whatever.

Often he may be merely criticising their inaccuracy but the net effect is still to focus our attention on what should be a minor factor in the political contest and distract from the issues at hand, leading party hacks to think they can use polls to set policy.

These hacks are rightly criticised for following rather than leading, then the same critics (you again, Bernard) continue to obsess about the latest poll numbers. It seems to me that the cold turkey option is the only way out of this mess.

Campbell Newman:

David Havyatt writes: Re. Yesterday’s Editorial. Crikey wrote:

“Never mind that (Campbell) Newman doesn’t actually sit in parliament. He’s announced a run for the Labor-held seat of Ashgrove at the next state poll, not due for another year. Langbroek has already stood down (deputy leader Lawrence Springborg, too), Newman will get the vote, and he’ll become the first pollie we can think of (that debate has ignited; we’ll take advice) to lead a major parliamentary party from outside the building.”

Try John Gorton between resigning from the Senate and being elected in Holt’s seat (was it Higgins?). Not only leasing a party — the whole country!

Nuclear power

Stephen Darraghwrites: Thanks for that explanation, Guy Rundle (yesterday, comments). With that masterful thesis on nuclear energy I think you’re assured of gaining the physics fellowship at the Andrew Bolt Institute of Climate Science.

Of course fission is a “natural process”. Fission is what causes the radioactive decay of elements like uranium when they’re just sitting in the ground, minding their own business.  Perhaps you meant to say that a fission chain-reaction is not a “natural process”, but that’s like saying that burning coal is not a “natural process” — after all, the coal won’t burn itself if you don’t dig it up and pile it into a furnace.

If anyone wishes to make a cogent argument against nuclear power, fine. But please don’t invoke the naturalistic fallacy when trying to do so.

Matthew Brennan writes: Guy Rundle is within his rights to describe Nuclear Power as “Promethean”.

However as a pragmatic person, it occurs to me that if one was going to build technology that “dismantled nature at the level upon which life depends” and that technology required back up cooling systems to prevent” a categorical disaster in which the technological process simply cannot be stopped”, locating the pumps where they could be knocked out by a tsunami is a rather dumb thing to do.

Particularly on the east coast of Japan.

Peter Fray

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