We must take genocide seriously

James Burke writes: Re. “Keane: we are failing domestic violence victims with our terrorism obsession” (yesterday). Bernard Keane has pelted us with the same argument every day for what seems like a month, but is probably only a week. We get it: IS terrorists probably won’t blow up Sydney any time soon. (Though let’s guard against the complacency with which so many reacted to the Ebola epidemic until recently, hey?)

Yes, journalist decapitations and domestic terror threats are manipulated by IS, News Corp, Washington, Canberra and rotten Middle East regimes to advance nefarious agendas. But IS’ genocide against its religiously incorrect victims — through mass murder, rape, torture, enslavement and cultural annihilation —  is stark fact, and the initial casus belli identified by a reluctant Obama.

After the agonised debates of the 1990s regarding whether and how to stop genocide, bin Laden succeeded in throwing the switch to “Terrorism!” Bush and Putin seized the opportunity to dismantle the creaky international machinery designed to deal with such problems, and here we are.

Is it possible, in 2014, to address the genocide problem, instead of continually preaching to the converted about the threat or not of terrorism? We warp our priorities, when we rail against terrorists while shrugging off genocides. Let’s not make the same mistake when railing against terror hype.

Australian subs might be a better deal

Tony Timmins writes: Re “Japanese subs: government makes the right call” (Wednesday). Bernard Keane says we might save some $15 billion buying Japanese subs. I’m thinking that if we spend $15 billion in Japan, we would get the subs but no tax benefit. If we spend $30 billion in Australia, how much of that will actually come back to the government with the multiplier effect of tax on wages, materials, GST etc.? Just a thought, maybe the net cost is not much different.

The nobility of miners

William Webber writes: Re. “BHP, Rio Tinto deliberately sinking the price of iron ore” (Wednesday). I am rather unclear of precisely what argument your correspondent is trying to make in the above article.  If BHP and Rio Tinto are deliberately shipping more iron ore than their profit-optimising amount, then the damage would show up in their profit (which is volume x [price – cost]) rather than in Australia’s gross national income (which is volume x price); unless (which seems unlikely) the fall in price is greater than the increase in volume.  And since cost includes a component of labour (direct or indirect), this strategy of increased volume would lead to more, not less, employment overall (at least in the short term). Of course, this might be more labour and gross income at BHP and Rio Tinto, and less at the smaller miners; but unless Glenn Dyer is a shareholder of (or perhaps a train-driver for?) one of the latter companies, I fail to understand the point of his animus.

Perhaps a better title for the article would have been: “BHP, Rio Tinto nobly sacrifice profits to boost Australian income, jobs; worse to come if they decide to stop”.

Don’t forget Sir Henry Parkes

John Hatfield writes: Re. “Guess who’s coming to Bob Carr’s dinner?” (yesterday).  I read with interest Alex Mitchell’s comment about Bob Carr being “the state’s longest-serving premier”. That is not completely correct. Carr holds the record for the longest continuous term as premier, 10 years and four months. The longest-serving premier in NSW was Sir Henry Parkes, who served for a combined 11 years, nine months and 13 days as premier, albeit in five separate stints.