Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Haphazardly to war

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  • nzlemming, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    Local or overseas-based?

    Local.
    Also done fiction. Used to be a glam rock singer, according to him, but glam rock was pretty much done before he was born. Total tosser. You can find him on Simon Prast's feed. I think Simon keeps him around for amusement.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2935 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock, in reply to David Hood,

    A response to the Atlantic article, criticizing the clash of civilizations narrative.

    Thanks for that. But a distinct whiff of Straw Men and what-iffery, imho.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Rich Lock,

    Thanks for that. But a distinct whiff of Straw Men and what-iffery, imho.

    In which? The Atlantic or the New Yorker?

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2935 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock, in reply to nzlemming,

    The New Yorker.

    The overall tone/narrative of The Atlantic piece is along the lines of 'The West thinks it's fighting Al-Quaeda 2.0. That is a wrong and dangerous assumption. Here's the real situation and why that assumption is dangerous'.

    The overall tone of the NY piece is: 'The Atlantic article drifts close to saying we are at war with Islam. This is wrong and aids our opponents on 'The Right', and therefore we shouldn't say it'.

    Well, firstly I don't think The Atlantic article did do that, and the author of the NY piece conspicuously fails to give any concrete examples.

    Secondly, I am assuming that most people reading it can parse the difference between opposition to fundamentalist strands of a religion and the religion itself. This is the kind of distinction I would like those in power to be able to make and act on, and to be briefed and informed accordingly (the Atlantic article points out that the response so far indicates that this is not the case - i.e. the US responding as if it's fighting Al-Quaeda 2.0).

    Thirdly, 'The Right' is going to do whatever it pleases in terms of narrative-setting whether or not intelligent articles with subtle shades of detail in them are published. If you're damnned if you do and damnned if you don't, then frankly you might as well do it anyway.

    Fourthly, and bearing in mind point 3, I take umbrage at effectively being told to watch my mouth in case an idiot, or block thereof, is unable to distinguish shades of gray. I would dearly like more in-depth and intelligent media analysis to be available, rather than most of the BS we currently get. Media dumbing-down is a perrenial complaint, not least on this site. And what happens when we do get something not dumbed-down? Along comes someone telling us to watch what is said in case of misinterpretation, and aid to our opponents. That's knind of insulting, as the assumption is that the readers can't carry out their own analysis and make up their own minds.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Rich Lock,

    I take umbrage at effectively being told to watch my mouth in case an idiot, or block thereof, is unable to distinguish shades of gray.

    The New Yorker has never been shy about playing to the presumed snobbery of its readers.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report Reply

  • Alex Coleman, in reply to Rich Lock,

    Fair enough. Here's another response, from Bernard Haykel, the expert cited in it quite extensively:

    http://thinkprogress.org/world/2015/02/20/3625446/atlantic-left-isis-conversation-bernard-haykel/

    “If Muslims start criticizing these texts that ISIS is using, saying that they are no longer relevant or no longer applicable, ISIS would declare them apostate,” Haykel said. “If you start telling ISIS that following a tradition of the prophet has been abrogated, has been superseded by some other tradition or some other verse, or that it’s no longer valid, or that it applies only to the seventh century but not today because we’re modern, you will be declared an apostate on the spot by ISIS.”

    The issue, Haykel says, lies in ISIS’s “ahistorical” theology, which justifies their horrific actions by essentially pretending that the last several centuries of Islamic history never happened.

    “This is something I did point out to [Wood] but he didn’t bring out in the piece: ISIS’s representation of Islam is ahistorical,” Haykel said. “It’s saying we have to go back to the seventh century. It’s denying the legal complexity of the [Islamic] legal tradition over a thousand years.”

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 247 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    I see "Jihadi John" has been "identified".
    Why is it that whenever there is an atrocity that makes people want to go to war it is always someone they have been "keeping their eye on"?
    If they knew about X before 911, if they knew about Y before the London bombings, ...
    Why didn't they act?. Could it be that these were well researched scapegoats to hold up to the people and say "This is the enemy". Give it a face and it becomes more real, even if it is a lie.
    The black Ninja suits with the shoulder holsters and the orange prisoner garb look to me as something Saatchi & Saatchi could have come up with, sooo symbolic of the torture inflicted in Guantanamo Bay it could make you believe that Islam was behind that too.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    I see “Jihadi John” has been “identified”

    They won't identify Jihad Jerry though:

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Toby Manhire sums up really well.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Marc C,

    This is a good and balanced post, I must say. There is much talk about “our duty”, “being part of the club”, and despite of discomfort and some opposition, most in the mainstream media now seem to portray this as “necessary”, and very low level contribution to “international efforts”.

    Indeed, who dares asking about the reasons behind the rise of IS, ISIS, ISIL or DAESH, whatever you call them? Who bothers to read, study and reflect on history? Who asks about the practicality, the sense and likely outcome of New Zealand’s contribution in the form of “training” Iraqi army units.

    I heard someone say on radio or TV, oh, well the threat to them will not be that great, as most Iraqi army members they will be training are likely to be Shia, so they won’t shoot their own trainers, as they hate the IS and Sunnis anyway.

    Is New Zealand not taking sides with a corrupt force, a corrupt, incompetent and morally questionable regime that now runs Iraq? Are we (rather Key and his government) not choosing the “lesser evil” of the players to keep some western influence and control in the area?

    Yes, the abominable crimes of IS or DAESH must be stopped and fought, but is this going to do it, together with the most despised foreign force in the region, that is by the Arabs, being the USA?

    I fear this is not going to solve much at all, and if they defeat IS, they will soon enough have other ruthless elements to fight, it is a cess-pit now, and we can thank George W. Bush and his war mongering in 2003, to have created it as it is now.

    Stupid US imperialist interventions gone wrong, causing more uncountable damage down the line, and now we are called to help “clean it up”.

    As we see, the world is back to the way it was during the Cold War, yes perhaps more so as it was in the 19th century, where strategies and influence count more than morals and human values. The UN Security Council is the prime example. And what is New Zealand doing there now, apart from Mr McCully holding the odd lecturing speech, but having NO real clout to move anything anywhere.

    Vanity, search for new “friends” and trade opportunities, and a blind Five Eyes’ compliance, that is what rules the foreign policy of this NZ government, none else.

    As for Iraq, it is only still a "state" on outdated maps, it no longer exists. Even after the first gulf war in 1991 the Kurds established their own defacto state. They have their interests, so do the Shiite militias and parties, and the Sunni are between a rock and a hard place, hardly keen to rejoin an untrusted Iraqi government and "state" that is totally dominated by Shiites, that is the "rump state" down the South East, what is left of Iraq. It will NEVER be one state again, as it was.

    Auckland • Since Oct 2012 • 437 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Marc C,

    As for Iraq, it is only still a "state" on outdated maps, it no longer exists. Even after the first gulf war in 1991 the Kurds established their own defacto state. They have their interests, so do the Shiite militias and parties, and the Sunni are between a rock and a hard place, hardly keen to rejoin an untrusted Iraqi government and "state" that is totally dominated by Shiites, that is the "rump state" down the South East, what is left of Iraq. It will NEVER be one state again, as it was.

    Yep, there have been predictions from high-up people that the artificial boundaries drawn up by Sykes and Picot will go the way of Yugoslavia. And just as messily too.

    * New Republic: The Middle East That France and Britain Drew Is Finally Unravelling
    * Chatham House: The End for Iraq and Syria?

    And what could have been...
    * Business Insider: A detailed look at the Middle East that might have been

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5443 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie, in reply to Rich Lock,

    I read that Atlantic article before seeing the New Yorker response. I thought the former was awful for many of the reasons the New Yorker pointed out.

    I didn't read the latter in the same light. It talked about self fulfilling prophesies, poor reasoning and a narrative that puts "the West" at war with Islam...not shutting up in case you upset people.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1645 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Don Christie,

    I didn’t read the latter in the same light. It talked about self fulfilling prophesies, poor reasoning and a narrative that puts “the West” at war with Islam…not shutting up in case you upset people.

    My reading was much the same.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2935 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell, in reply to nzlemming,

    My reading was much the same.

    Ditto. For context, there’s been a lot of frothing from the right about Obama failing to use the right words against ISIS. He's very careful to avoid the idea of a 'war on islam.' Not just to avoid offending key allies - it's exactly the message ISIS want out there.
    And a bunch of vainglorious wanna-be-importants keep trumpeting the descent of angels and ‘grand clash of civilizations.’
    It’s like they’ve never twigged to the religion of the soldiers in the Iraqi army and militias – and in the Kurdish peshmerga. The vast majority of people killed by ISIS are moslems; the vast majority of people fighting ISIS are moslems.
    Somehow that doesn’t register with the armchair warriors.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2110 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    Attachment

    Today's Tremain in the ODT is an interesting cartoon, on many level's ... supposedly showing Key trying not to catch whatever is ailing Abbot ...... but that's also a Micky Mouse Key meeting Abbot to show off his Mickey Mouse Iraq policy ... 16 advisors .... then again it might be Mickey Mouse's Key ....

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to nzlemming,

    So much for sovereignty.

    It’s numbly reassuring to forget that just a few months back we were trying to make head or tail of the Operation Speargun/ Cortex kerfuffle following revelations that a low level NSA analyst had finger enough on the pulse of New Zealand’s Intelligence community processes to accurately name a program that had been considered for implementation by our own Government Communications Security Bureau, in that instance Key was bold enough with his “business case” response to freely admit to anyone paying attention just how compromised the sovereignty of our intelligence organizations is. On that note I do believe Key’s “price of the club” was once again one of his truer admissions.

    I can understand that when faced with these type of home truths about New Zealand’s lack of sovereignty in matters of intelligence/defence/ law that some might find it preferable to seek solace in alternate realities. Alternate to the reality where NZ sent troops to hunt a Saudi in the wrong ‘stan. Alternate to the reality where NZ’s refusal to send ‘troops’ to ‘raq in 03 was not so much the norm as a blip on our foreign policy radar. Alternate to the reality where less than 50 years back we were still paying in pounds shillings and pence, distinct from sterling only since 1933. Alternate to the reality where less than a hundred years back we were still a dominion and that’s still one our leading newspapers. Alternate to a reality where we scoff down the Colonel’s chicken while tuning into The Walking Dead in which a fella from Bath convincingly plays a Georgian police sheriff, a fella from Liverpool the Governor. Alternate to the reality where the nations ‘founding’ Treaty was signed by various Māori chiefs and representatives of the British Crown. Alternate to the reality where a retrial is afoot due to a New Zealand judgement against a New Zealander being quashed by one of highest courts in the United Kingdom.

    As I look out over the balcony I see a new landmark has sprung up between the toitoi and the apodasmia similis. This monument has been erected to remind us of our history and of who we are. Hot on the heels of eons of no monuments here, this eyesore doesn't recall the early whalers who worked from KiniKini nor the many ships that have been wrecked negotiating these shallow waters, nor even does it recall that it was overlooking this very beach that Ruawharo, having left the waka Takitimu, decided to settle.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to mark taslov,

    Attachment Attachment

    The price of membership in the club.

    Obviously Recognising that New Zealand is merely a client state may not be a comforting thought for many. It leaves us feeling impotent and ineffectual. This inadequacy might spill over into the way we approach other issues e.g. say our nation faced a huge binge drinking problem we might lose heart and give up the ghost. Instead of pouring resources into stemming the tide at its source we may instead resign ourselves to addressing contingent issues by throwing a couple of well toasted individuals onto the TV screen in a concerted effort to dissuade the drunk nation from frying whilst wasted.

    Or say we as a nation faced an issue whereby 500 people were committing suicide annually, we may well hush it up, censor the media, and do so under the auspices of protecting the nation from the copycat effect. As if 500 deaths is some kind of notable success, as if the dependent incidents would somehow push a reasonable figure into the realms of the untenable.

    With regards to this war, the core issue for me is not so much that (once again) our troops are being sent where and by whom and for what. The underlying question is how do we extricate ourselves from this club and/or these terms of membership.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to mark taslov,

    I only have 'eyes' for U...

    question is how do we extricate ourselves from this club

    Bearing in mind that we are only Five Eyes 'members' due to our country's fortuitous planetary placement - 'our' antennae and dishes can monitor southern geostationary satellites and other hard to intercept orbits and transmissions - ditto for Pine Gap (and 2 other bases) in Australia...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7953 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie,

    Our government wants to bring in a new law to sanitise the deaths of servicemen killed in the line of duty. Not for us the brutal truth of modern warfare -- as a nation we're far too sensitive for that. We'll be told that our loved one died a hero, not that he was shot in the back by a corrupt Iraqi soldier he was training.

    Now coroners will only be allowed to investigate a soldier's death if the Attorney-General allows for it by determining the public interest and impact on New Zealand's security.

    Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee said the changes wouldn't include self-inflicted deaths or training accidents but refused to comment further as the bill was before a select committee.

    Don't worry petals... uncle Gerry always knows best. Remember how efficiently he oversaw the transformation of a broken city into the magical place filled with happy people that it is today.

    This isn't even part of the price we're paying for Jonkey to belong to 'The Club'. We'll be unique in sanitising these inevitable disasters as the English and the Aussies both allow coronial enquiries for military deaths.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1440 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie,

    While the usual fanboys including Fran O'Sullivan and Mike Hoskings publish the inevitable "Key is doing the right thing" puff pieces, John Armstrong's thoughtful article in the Herald makes a refreshing change. He quotes Terence O'Brien.

    If last Monday's "misguided" decision by the Cabinet to dispatch a contingent to Iraq was the price of New Zealand's membership of the exclusive Five Eyes intelligence-gathering "club" - as the Prime Minister admitted a month ago - what did that say about the transparency and credibility of the country's supposedly "independent" foreign policy?

    He concludes that something could go spectacularly wrong.

    If that happens, it will be on Key's head alone.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1440 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Alfie,

    Uncle Gerry always knows best

    That's right - he invaded an airport security corridor and lied and obfuscated every step of the way...

    The 'sanitising' of soldier deaths will just end up like Pat Tillman's Afghanistan 'friendly fire' death case in the US...
    apparently 'we the people' cannot cope with the truth - and must never be told anything approximating it!

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7953 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Alfie,

    The NZDF supported the amendment and said it strikes a balance "between independent investigation and ensuring judicial scrutiny did not encroach into "matters of the state".

    Unfuckingbelievable. Like they've never heard of the 3 branches of government.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2935 posts Report Reply

  • James George,

    I dunno why everyone was hangin off Key's statement to Parliament when more than two weeks before, the amerikan secretary of state announced on Al Jazeera that NZ troops would be on a training mission with Oz .
    The slavish devotion to the Key sock puppet's words makes kiwis weeks behind what is happening out there in the real world.

    In fact it is this inward looking focus promoted by media turds which means that the ignorati who lap up the endless tide of propaganda are always scratching their heads wondering WTF?

    Take IS whose popularity (and despite the bulldust the hacks around here push these guys are immensely popular throughout the Arab speaking nations) is largely derived from one simple issue. These guys are the only organised force prepared to bite spit scratch and claw at the whitefella hands that have been simultaneously strangling em and sodomising them for the last 150 years.

    If you want to get a handle on why look no further than Egypt where a genuinely popular uprising was deliberately perverted by a judeo-xtian plotted and resourced sabotage.
    Right now the people of Gaza are copping it up the ass from Israel while egypt is is levering open their mouths with a rusty screwdriver so Sisi can stick his dick in there. Meantime Barak Obama, Dave the dickhead Cameron and Merkel and all the rest of the gang are cheering him on like a mob of drunks at a buck's night.

    Let the ignorati carp on about IS all they want but as far as the people most affected by IS are concerned, nothing IS do could come close to the evil shit that 'the west' and it's zionist proxy have been doing.
    New Zealand is sending troops there because we are weak and greedy - accept those realities and then maybe we can do something to fix it.

    I don't expect it tho you're all too busy waiting for Key to drip feed you information about your own country which the septic tanks were told weeks before.

    Since Sep 2007 • 96 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to James George,

    Take IS whose popularity (and despite the bulldust the hacks around here push these guys are immensely popular throughout the Arab speaking nations)

    Really?

    The Islamic State group has substantially less support in Arab nations than it does in European countries, including Britain, according to a new report into attitudes towards the brutal jihadist group.

    The Syria and Iraq-based group, also known as ISIS or ISIL, enjoys practically no popularity in Egypt, Lebanon, or Saudi Arabia, according to research by the Washington Institute. Saudi Arabia is one of five Arab nations which joined the US in airstrikes on Islamic State (IS) targets in Syria.

    Just 3% of Egyptian expressed a positive opinion of the IS, only 5% of Saudis, and under 1% of Lebanese respondents showed any support for the group. It does not mean, the researchers point out, that there is absolutely no support for IS in those countries as the small percentages add up to around 1.5 million people in Egypt, 500,000 in Saudi Arabia, and a few thousand in Lebanon.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    Pine Gap was originally put there because a US spy satellite (Keyhole, possibly) hadn't got room for the hardware for an encrypted downlink and so they used an unencrypted beam - the idea was that the Russians wouldn't be able to set up a monitoring dish in the middle of Australia.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

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