Skip to comments.These ideologues do not believe in a dialogue
Posted on 09/13/2004 6:46:53 PM PDT by naturalman1975
The lesson of the Jakarta bomb seems to be lost on the likes of Amnesty International.
Challenging speech. Pity about the timing. Irene Khan, the secretary-general of Amnesty International, delivered the Hawke Annual Lecture (named after former prime minister Bob Hawke) in Adelaide last Wednesday. Her topic was "Security for whom?" and she left her audience in no doubt that Western democracies, including Australia, were primarily responsible for the plight of the modern world.
Khan told her audience: "We live in a dangerous world, and I believe the world is being further endangered by a narrowly focused security agenda - the key feature of which has been a sustained attack on global values, global standards and global institutions which constitute the system of human rights and international law."
Get it? According to Khan, the principal causes of our present discontents are the governments of the United States, Britain and Australia. As distinct from rogue states or terrorist movements.
The Amnesty head made her position clear during an interview on the ABC TV's Lateline immediately after her lecture. Compere Tony Jones put it to Khan that she was more critical of Western democracies than terrorists. She replied that Amnesty International was "focusing on governments" because "we expect governments to take the leadership . . . at this very critical juncture on the international stage and to fork out a different path from the one they have taken so far".
Yet Khan made no specific condemnation of any rogue state or terrorist movement. In particular, there was no mention whatsoever of any Islamist terrorist organisation by name. This despite the fact that she arrived in Australia after the Chechnya terrorists in Russia had shot young children in the back as they attempted to flee their cold-blooded kidnappers.
The Amnesty International head also made no specific reference to the Islamist terrorist movement Jemaah Islamiah, which is regarded as responsible for the Bali suicide/homicide attack of October 12, 2002, which caused the deaths of hundreds, including 88 Australians. An unfortunate omission, to be sure. Khan found time to single out the governments of the US, Britain and Australia. Yet it was very much the case of "don't mention the Islamist terrorist organisations".
The day after Khan's speech, the homicide/suicide brigade struck again in Jakarta. This time outside the Australian embassy, causing the deaths of some 10 Indonesians - most of whom, presumably, were Muslim.
According to the Amnesty International head, it is up to Western democracies to "fork out a different path" in response to such murderous attacks. Yet she does not say to whom, say, a John Howard or a Mark Latham should talk. The leaders of al-Qaeda and its South-East Asian franchise, JI, have made it clear they want to destroy Western civilisation and, consequently, have no wish to negotiate with anyone.
In Terror and Liberalism (W. W. Norton, 2003) Paul Berman quotes Azzam, one of bin Laden's officers, as declaring "no negotiations, no conferences and no dialogues". The fact is that Islamist groups have no agenda apart from the destruction of Western democracies and moderate Muslim nations. If the Islamists had their way, the likes of Khan would live uneducated behind a burqa. Which explains why she feels comfortable criticising Western societies at the Adelaide Town Hall but does not condemn terrorism in the Islamist madrasahs in, say, Saudi Arabia or Iran.
In his September 2004 pastoral letter, Kevin Manning (the Catholic Bishop of Parramatta) has urged members of his flock "to think about the key moral issues facing our country at this time". They do not include abortion or euthanasia, common interests of Pope John Paul II.
No, the Catholics of Parramatta have been instructed by their bishop that the "most obvious moral issue is our involvement in the war in Iraq" and advised that "the next federal election will be an opportunity to stand up for moral and ethical issues". Nudge-nudge.
Similar advice of the wink-wink genre has been proffered by Peter Watson (the Anglican Archbishop of Melbourne) who has preached on the federal election, and by the National Council of Churches in its Election Briefing Kit 2004.
After publication of his pastoral letter, Bishop Manning was interviewed by Stephen Crittenden on ABC Radio National's The Religion Report. Here Manning declared not only his opposition to the Coalition of the Willing in Iraq but also added: "I can't see that any war is justified." This suggests that the Catholics of Parramatta are being taught that not even the Second World War was justified.
In other words, according to the pastoral instructions of Bishop Manning, there is no justification for military action in defence of Western democracies against Nazism or communism or Islamism.
It is not as if there is a causal connection between Islamist terrorism and Iraq. The attacks on the US on September 11, 2001, and in Bali took place well before the invasion of Iraq. Likewise, the attempt to bomb the Australian high commission in Singapore in 2001. And the recent suicide/homicide onslaughts in Morocco and Saudi Arabia were not aimed at the US and its allies but, rather, at undermining Muslim governments.
The anti-Western Islamist ethos has something in common with such Western constructs as Nazism and communism. All three entities are, in Berman's terminology, "apocalyptic and death-obsessed mass movements".
There has always been a pacifist tradition in the West. The fact remains that Western democracies survived because elected governments chose a different option. The likes of Irene Khan and Kevin Manning are well-meaning. Their error stems from a failure to understand that some political or religious ideologues do not believe in dialogue leading to improvement on this earth, but only in death.
That's the lesson of the (most recent) Jakarta bombing.
Gerard Henderson is executive director of The Sydney Institute.
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