My world (Elections and Afghanistan)

31 October, 2001

Well, I’m at work again. Sometimes it seems my life has become a balance of working, sleeping, eating and listening to the problems of others. Not that any of those are bad things, just I don’t seem to actually get out and do anything else.

Well, it’s been 3 weeks to the day since my last entry. Why? Realistically, because nothing worth reporting has happened – it’s either unimportant, too personal, or whatever.

I was reading a discussion in someone else’s journal about the honesty etc of livejournal – I mean, we write here, with the full knowledge that anyone we give this link to, or who stumbles upon it, will read what is here. So yes, when writing here, one does leave out some personal stuff, and does to some extent present for an audience. However, I agree with whoever said it’s a release sometimes – I find it very constructive to work through my thoughts and read some of the replies I get.

The only things really worth emphasising that have come up over the last three weeks are generally:

(1) Australian election campaign. I believe strongly that electing Howard for a third term would be a disaster for Australia. We have a government who puts money above any kind of social program. While Labor are certainly not *good*, just *not as bad*, their social programs and policies are certainly superior to the Liberals’, and at least if they get in, things will not get worse (even if they only get a little better).

(2) I’ve become more and more convinced that this bombing campaign on Afghanistan is both fruitless and morally wrong. I have nothing against the punishment of terrorists – in fact I hope they’re made to face up to the terror – but by bombing, we are killing hundreds/thousands, making millions more hungry and homeless, and I heard today they *still* don’t know where Bin Laden is. And they don’t even know for sure he did it – all they can prove, from his own statements is that he agreed with the actions. The weak justification I’ve heard for the campaign that the above is enough, doesn’t explain why the US and other Western countries seemingly have no problems with terrorist organisations in a range of other countries who have done dastardly deeds against civilisation.

I also firmly believe violence breeds violence. Anyone, it seems, who points out that past actions by the US and its allies in various parts of the world amounted to interference and possibly even terrorism, and that this may have led, amongst other things, to the terrorists feeling the way they do about US and its allies, is denounced. This “for us or against us” mentality belongs in the Stone Age.

I do not believe “the US brought it on itself”, because those who died were civilians who didn’t authorise and weren’t involved in the actions committed overseas by their government. Because of voluntary voting, any administration elected in the US can only claim 20% of the population even voted for them in the polls. But I think it is short-sighted not to see that if US foreign policy had have respected the rights of other nations, the terrorists who attacked America might well have not become terrorists, or at least stayed within that region of the world.

(3) The US need to fix their phone system badly 🙂 It was a great system when it was first developed in the 50s, but hasn’t really been changed since then. Any system where three neighbours have three different area codes, mobile numbers look the same as local numbers, and people who are still trying to work out how to use ATMs and VCRs are being asked to dial 11 digit numbers to call people in their own area, needs a *lot* of work. Have a look at http://www.lincmad.com for some ideas.

Originally posted at personal LJ.

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Various thoughts

9 October, 2001

I am becoming convinced that this little problem in Afghanistan is essentially a problem with the male way of thinking. We need more women in advisory and ruling places. It’s odd that by far the majority of people I know who share my opinions on how pointless and possibly counterproductive bombing Afghanistan is, happen to be female. I am not advocating doing nothing, but rather _proaction_ rather than reaction. This “They (possibly) did this to us, let’s bomb the crap out of them and this will solve the problem” mentality tends towards a somewhat cyclical nature, especially as Osama and his mates are also talking about a “final solution”. Some of his mates are worse than he is, and better armed (largely thanks to the US in the 80s, and Osama’s oil money in the 90s) and they’re nowhere near Afghanistan.

  • inactive – indolent, sluggish, passive.
  • reactive – characterised by reacting to situations after they have developed.
  • proactive – taking the initiative in directing the course of events, rather than waiting until things happen.

Inactive would be to do nothing. That would be just wrong in the present circumstances.

Reactive is to simply blast the crap out of them and hope (a) they don’t recover, and (b) we got every last one of them.

Proactive is to look at why terrorism happens. It is usually born out of two basic premises – money and power. Terrorists depend on popular support from their environments to survive, and they get this through exploiting people’s desire to believe in an easy way out of their poverty and powerlessness.

This may be to create a homeland for their people, to give their minority rights in a primarily monocultural society, or to bring down those whom they feel have caused their poverty and powerlessness. Now you’ll notice ALL of these aims can be achieved by peaceful means – the East Timorese and the Indians (under Mahatma Gandhi) are two of many examples of precisely this. Especially in societies which are illiterate and poor where religion is a strong influence (think back to our own feudal history in Europe), religious groups and orders hold a lot of sway with the people. This has been used for both positive – look at Bishop Carlos Belo of East Timor – and negative ends.

What makes the people choose to either actively or complicitly support terrorists over those who propose more moderate solutions? Pretty simple. There is a perception that the terrorists will achieve the outcome much more quickly. Also, their own press, which only reaches the 40% or so who are literate, does not release details of the casualties, and paints a picture of these being a valid and important target towards their final aim (Sound familiar, anyone?)

So what happens if you bomb Afghanistan and declare these champions of their cause to be evil? Quite simply, their allies in remote regions of Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Iran, Iraq and Pakistan are still able, without hindrance, and now have a new motive to inflict even more suffering on the world, whether it be on the US, on the West, on Israel, or Russia. Who knows, and who can know? I was always taught as a child not to play with fire, or I might get burnt. The same applies here.

We need common-sense, not jingoism, and perhaps that’s why we need more females in control of our defence and foreign policy. I’m not saying all females are better than all males, just saying we need a more balanced perspective and maybe that is one way to provide it.

Originally posted at a previous blog.


Xanana Gusmao speaks

9 October, 2001

War is not the way – Gusmao

MELBOURNE – East Timorese presidential candidate Xanana Gusmao yesterday denounced the United States-led air strikes on Afghanistan.

Mr Gusmao said the horrors of war had scarred East Timor. “After fighting 24 years, believing in Peace, now I would like to see America and other countries seek another approach,” he said.

“Use all means, but not violence, because we are still feeling in our skin the suffering, the pain… war will not end if we use violence to respond to violence.

“It is difficult for me to say this when we responded with violence, but it was to defend our freedom. Now, maybe it is on behalf of the freedom of Afghanistan’s people, but there must be other means to achieve a solution.” Mr Gusmao said the history of violence in the Middle East made it difficult to find an easy solution.

Despite being close to Indonesia, strongly Catholic East Timor was not concerned at this stage about possible reprisals by Muslim fundamentalists. “No, no, because we are not in the list of powerful nations,” he said. “And we just separated from Indonesia. During the struggle it was often said that Islamisation was taking place in East Timor – it is why I don’t believe East Timor will be a special target from Indonesian people or Indonesian Islamic groups.”

The West Australian, 9 Oct 2001, page 5

Originally posted at a previous blog.


Election 2001

5 October, 2001

I sincerely hope the Australian public sees sense and doesn’t elect Howard back for a third term just because of this NYC business. I know there’s a risk Liberal will be re-elected and they’ll be allowed to ruin our economy and society for another 3 years, and I may be using some of my money to help campaign this time. I can’t specifically endorse Labor, as I know that in some ways, they won’t be any better – but they’re by far the lesser of the two evils.