Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Terror panics and the war imperative

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  • 81stcolumn,

    I thought he could have been a lot less equivocal about the vile punishments employed in Saudi Arabia

    In fairness you didn't give him a lot of space to work with. The elements preceding the discussion afford an unkind line of equivalence to be drawn between the activities of ISIS (IS) and Saudi via sharia law. As Toi points out the issues around this are somewhat complex. Sharia is a scholarly device for interpretation of in Islamic terms "gods will". The problem here is not the device but the context of interpretation. Saudi Arabian governance is dominated by Wahhabism. You can’t really discuss Sharia in Saudi without examining the historical and contemporary relationship between the family of ibn Saud and Wahhabi. This in the simplest of terms plays out like the relationship between Catholicism and European Monarchy with one key weakness, that there is no divine right to rule under Islam. In terms of social and intellectual authority this limits the power of any leader in Saudi to modernise. A problem which is not helped at all by various Western discourses* that actually limit the scope of the Saudi government, which may be imperilled when seen to be giving in to Infidels. Indeed the current witch hunting does seem to look like that similarly political vehicle of Catholicism The Inquisition. I am quite sure that many Wahhabi scholars would much prefer a pure theocracy rather than one which reflects a 250 year old legacy deal with a strong and somewhat fortunate tribal leader. Wahhabism does in fairness provide a more logical link between what goes on in Saudi and ISIS but I think it is reasonable to say that similarities end there.

    For the sake of balance it is worth noting the scope of the struggle within Saudi Arabia through some often overlooked facts on the ground. Take a look at the relationship between KAUST and Saudi Aramco. For as much as they may be described as “window dressing” they are real, very un-Wahhabi and rarely ever discussed in any media analysis of Sharia or Saudi politics.

    While I would prefer not to be seen as an apologist for beheadings, I do despair at the one dimensional analysis of affairs in Saudi Arabia. This at times seems driven by self-serving caricatures and historically wilful ignorance. I am deeply sceptical of “springs” and “shoots of democracy” that too often have tragic consequences. They appear to me at least to have deeply sinister overtones when set against the broader context of politics and economics in the broader Middle East.

    <disclaimer> I was born in the Middle East and did some significant growing up in the region. It has been some time since I left the region and my interests/opinions are personal rather than academic.

    *I would seek to include another so called “theocratic democracy” in that discourse which is very much part of the problem but I won’t go on about that at risk of a Middle East Godwin.

    Nawthshaw • Since Nov 2006 • 790 posts Report Reply

  • Marc C, in reply to BenWilson,

    Yep, and as our leaders are such loyal supporters of freedom and democracy and human rights all over the world, I am sure that The Right Honourable We Know Who has uttered some "support" to the tens of thousands democracy protestors in Hong Kong. He will equally have stood firm on human rights, especially equal rights of the gentler gender in places such as Saudi Arabia, Iran and a few other places, to where a fair few exports go, same as to the lands north of Hong Kong.

    In loyal support of all such noble values, New Zealand's government is "leading the way", I suppose, everywhere, on equal terms, in all fairness, so all are treated equally, no matter what economic relevance they may have or not.

    Auckland • Since Oct 2012 • 437 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Marc C,

    In loyal support of all such noble values, New Zealand’s government is “leading the way”, I suppose, everywhere, on equal terms, in all fairness, so all are treated equally, no matter what economic relevance they may have or not.

    And are our universities doing well in the struggle, too? ...seems not

    and I'm guessing Mr Joyce won't be rushing to put more focus on social education above 'growth (read money) related industries' at our tertiary institutions any time soon...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7943 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green,

    Where is the GCSB when a guy really needs them?
    FFS , can't we find at least one person with brown skin and a funny-sounding name to arrest on vague suspicion of perhaps contemplating . . . oh I don't know . . . just contemplating will do?

    "New" fault -lines and Ebola are all very well, but can't we have something a little more scary?

    I mean , what is a Prime Minister supposed to do?

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 776 posts Report Reply

  • lynne walker,

    Can someone help. When I try to watch Maori Tv on replay like on this post, get no image only sound. I use samsung tablet, which is fine for tv1 etc.I really want to watch this so any help gratefully received. Lynne

    Auckland • Since Jan 2011 • 23 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Farmer Green,

    what is a Prime Minister supposed to do?

    apparently this:

    With his third-term Cabinet sworn in, Prime Minister John Key is gearing up for a push on housing, education and employment laws.

    I dread to think how that will manifest itself...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7943 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Farmer Green,

    FFS , can’t we find at least one person with brown skin and a funny-sounding name to arrest on vague suspicion of perhaps contemplating . . . oh I don’t know . . . just contemplating will do?

    The old John Howard trick?
    Tony Abbott appears to have learned something from his old mentor's stuffup, even if it's nothing more sophisticated than using a bigger hammer.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Ratings, what is it good for?
    Meanwhile Britain's finest are working hard
    to foment unrest in South America...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7943 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to 81stcolumn,

    A problem which is not helped at all by various Western discourses* that actually limit the scope of the Saudi government, which may be imperilled when seen to be giving in to Infidels. Indeed the current witch hunting does seem to look like that similarly political vehicle of Catholicism The Inquisition.

    Which took place in the 12 and 13th centuries.

    The current surge in executions in Saudi Arabia -- for such crimes as sorcery, apostasy and adultery -- seems like a grotesque throwback. As the UN pointed out:

    “The trials are by all accounts grossly unfair. Defendants are often not allowed a lawyer and death sentences were imposed following confessions obtained under torture. The method of execution then aggravates a situation that is already totally unacceptable."

    A month ago we learned that the Saudis have been snatching apostates off the streets of New Zealand and forcibly repatriating them. And our government responds thus:

    Labour's Phil Goff has written to Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse and Police Minister Anne Tolley asking what follow-up action officials had taken to get to the bottom of what happened.

    Woodhouse and then-Ethnic Affairs Minister Judith Collins refused to comment, saying it was a matter for police. Tolley said police "have not raised any concerns about issues such as these".

    And John Key is looking forward to going to Saudi Arabia next year to negotiate a free trade agreement.

    I mean, can we get even a little condemnation up in here?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I mean, can we get even a little condemnation up in here?

    As Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said, "None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free."

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 776 posts Report Reply

  • william blake,

    Eye rack is to George Bush what Wongaray is to John Banks, please don't.

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=HKBlopQoByQ&autoplay=1

    Since Mar 2010 • 380 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Prester John redux...?

    John Key is looking forward to going to Saudi Arabia next year to negotiate a free trade agreement.

    I mean, can we get even a little condemnation up in here?

    Those who live by the Saud...

    :- (

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7943 posts Report Reply

  • ChrisW, in reply to Paul Campbell,

    .... still time to include it in Johnny's flag referendum

    One small positive outcome locally from the ISIS challenge -- if there is going to be a flag referendum any time soon then JohnKey's personal preference for NZ to have a black flag with some sort of white bit in the middle is not going to fly.

    Gisborne • Since Apr 2009 • 851 posts Report Reply

  • John Farrell, in reply to ChrisW,

    "black flag with some sort of white bit in the middle"

    Skull and crossbones?

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 496 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    I think I’m hearing a baited hook being waved in front of my nose I really shouldn’t rise to, but I’m certain I should take my own advice and presume good faith on your part.

    I think the self-metaphor of you being some kind of slippery fish is quite apt. Yes, landing you on any point is as difficult as it is with a skilled politician. Instead of answering the question, you call the question bad faith or baiting or whatever, and then you respond with a question of your own. So I come away with no answer to my question, and an implication that somehow I'm the one with questions to answer. And that's bad faith on my part somehow.

    In answer to your question posed to Mark and me: No, no one is suggesting that John Key should be restricting the freedom of people who willfully put themselves at risk of being caught by ISIL. Brave journalists should be allowed to do their thing. That would be completed unwarranted use of extraordinary powers that no one has suggested would be a good idea (and it's probably entirely outside of his power anyway), and it's also completely beside the point of whether John Key should be gearing up to send NZ troops to this conflict.

    Is this particular line in bed yet or should I be even more unequivocal about it? No one suggested that. But it's now asked and answered so can we get an answer to my question? How on earth can you maintain that engaging in a military conflict with a group of people who openly use terrorist tactics constantly isn't going to increase our chances of having those tactics used on us?

    Or are you saying that it's beside the point, and we shouldn't even consider it, because that's "giving in to terrorists", and that they will be doing it anyway? Very confused about your point.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh,

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • ChrisW, in reply to John Farrell,

    Skull and crossbones?

    Yes I'm sure ISIS/ISIL/IS considered this one's perception and reception carefully when choosing theirs, more carefully than JohnKey with his unerring understanding of these things.

    Gisborne • Since Apr 2009 • 851 posts Report Reply

  • wendyf, in reply to Rich Lock,

    Thank you. All clear now.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 88 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie, in reply to ChrisW,

    if there is going to be a flag referendum any time soon then JohnKey's personal preference for NZ to have a black flag with some sort of white bit in the middle is not going to fly.

    And the All Blacks are going to renounce their black strip, lest they be mistaken for terrorists.

    Yeah right!

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1436 posts Report Reply

  • wendyf,

    BenWilson puts in nicely "Usually it's just the death business". Yes, Business, Commerce is what it's all about. All sing "Money makes the world go 'round"

    And thank you Marc C for putting up the link to Loretta Napoleoni.

    81 first column - thank you for explaining some of the information many of us need in discussing Middle East 'problems'.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 88 posts Report Reply

  • ChrisW, in reply to Alfie,

    And the All Blacks are going to renounce their black strip, lest they be mistaken for terrorists.
    Yeah right!

    Yeah nah.
    Perhaps this may help recognition of the fundamental differences in how flags and clothing and logos (etc.) are perceived, in their respective contexts and all.

    Gisborne • Since Apr 2009 • 851 posts Report Reply

  • TracyMac, in reply to John Farrell,

    I think that according to the rules of heraldry and flag design, that connotation is precisely why no (?) nation has a substantially-black flag. It's a big no-no traditionally.

    Canberra, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 701 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov,

    Tangentially, on this day in history exactly 750 years ago, the Kingdom of Castile conquered the city of Jerez which had been under Muslim occupation since 711. Though it was not until 1492 that the combined forces of Castile and Aragon captured the Emirate of Granada, ending the last remnant of a 781-year presence of Islamic rule in Iberia.

    The Medieval Inquisition had begun in the 12 century, and the defeat of Islamic Iberia presented new opportunity. Pope Sixtus IV published the Papal bull, Exigit Sinceras Devotionis Affectus, through which he gave the monarchs exclusive authority to name the inquisitors in their kingdoms, paving the way for the Inquisition new wave: the Roman Inquisition, the Spanish Inquisition, the Portuguese Inquisition and so on and so forth:

    The last execution of the Inquisition was finally carried out in Spain on July 26, 1826. This was the execution of the school teacher, Cayetano Ripoll, for the teaching of Deism in his school. In Spain the practices of the Inquisition were finally outlawed in 1834.

    The Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition was rebranded Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office in 1908 and then in 1965 it became The Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith as it remains to this day.

    García Cárcel estimates that the total number of people put on trial by inquisitorial courts throughout their history was approximately 150,000, of which about 3,000 were executed – about two percent of the number of people put on trial. Gustav Henningsen and Jaime Contreras studied the records of the Spanish Inquisition, which list 44,674 cases of which 826 resulted in executions

    Also on this day in history, in 1981 France abolished capital punishment, though the guillotine was still the official method of execution in France, the last individual to face this method was Hamida Djandoub at Baumettes Prison in Marseille at 4:40 a.m 10 September 1977.

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

  • Sacha, in reply to mark taslov,

    Full marks for dexterity

    zing :)

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19707 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    When someone pulls passive-aggressive conversational tactics, it is not 'bad faith' to draw attention to those. Good faith earns good faith.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19707 posts Report Reply

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