Tim Blair


New Criterion



Saturday, April 12, 2003
APOLOGY. In a post recently Uncle attributed to a Mr Guy Rundle the view that it is not worth supporting your country's enemies unless they are killing lots of your fellow citizens. Having read Mr Rundle's further personal explanation, this time in the Henny Herald of Sydney, Uncle wishes to apologise to Mr Rundle for suggesting that his moral concerns operated at such a pettifogging level.

It is now clear to me that Mr Rundle, in "half-hoping the war would spread to the whole Middle East", considers the deaths of not only his fellow citizens but those of any other place an inconsiderable accessory to the real struggle, the fight against the source of all evil in the world, US imperialism.

I trivialised Mr Rundle by suggesting that he was not a totalitarian ideologue, who considers the continuation of a monstrous tyrant like Saddam Hussein more moral than a bourgeois democracy that removes him, and to whom the fate of real people is always beneath any concern. I acknowledge that he is a true follower of Lenin, Stalin, Mao and Kim Jong Il, those giants of political thought and action, and I apologise unreservedly for implying that he would act merely from motives as small as a hateful and self-righteous contempt for the fate of his fellow countrymen and women.

ONE OF THE MOST ENJOYABLE of the gloat blogs is Andrew Sullivan's collection of foolish statements exposed in short order by the relentless passage of three weeks.

Included is this priceless number from der Spiegel:

Gruesome days for the German foreign minister: Every morning at nine, his staff briefs him on the situation in Iraq in the ministry's underground situation room. His worst fears are coming true: The US military appears to be stuck in its tracks in the desert, and civilian casualties are multiplying. It has never been so painful to have been in the right, murmurs the foreign minister, with a worried look on his face.

It's not a satire.

If you read on through the Spiegel article you come to some choice examples of truly ga-ga politics.

Schröder's last conversation with the White House was on November 8th. Even during the first hours of war, the German chancellor was kept completely in the dark by American government authorities. Like millions of other citizens, he too was forced to view the images of war on television in the early morning hours - a political humiliation.

What to do? First, define the problem.

For the first time, Schröder and Fischer, whose previous actions were generally spontaneous, have taken the bold step of formulating policy that extends into the future.

Joe Fischer might be better at that than trying to predict the future. He's good at making policy for the past, but.

Outlines of the new course developing in the dialogue with Paris are already evident: In the wake of the US' solo move, the United Nations are to be restored to the key position in world politics.

This is the old hair-of-the-dog approach. German policy will be to support France in using the sole means it has left to pretend it is a first rank power able to countervail the Americans - the French Security Council veto. You certainly can't call that a suck-up to the Yanks.

Not if you listen to what Chirac says: "France will accept no resolution that amounts to giving the Americans and the British, who are waging the war, administrative power over Iraq." Whatever it costs the Iraqi people.

This is Chirac's second front. Coming in behind Syria and Iran, making it a fourth front.

As for the Germans, Fischer thinks Europe should have a credible military force. But first Germany has to build one.

Not if that means reforming welfare spending, snaps his Green Party president, Angelika Beer.

All this adds up to "a Tour de France approach", according to one of Fischer's advisers. "Always make sure you lag just a little behind."

Behind France, Syria and Iran, that is.

Rumsfeld was wrong to call these fellows "old Europe". They're senile.

Thursday, April 10, 2003
UNCLE HAS SAID SOME STUPID THINGS in his time, although never on this blog.

But I could never conceive of taking a position as staggeringly, face-numbingly stupid as that of Guy Rundle in this morning's Aus. There is this quiet but stern voice I hear at times when serious folly threatens. Such as the moment I'm about to follow the coyote over that cliff, or say "I love you".

Bear in mind that Rundle is giving his considered second thoughts after his Sunday sermon in favour of having his country's men and women in uniform destroyed.

That considered statement, made in the Age, drew notice from Mr Saluszinsky in yesterday's Aus, and the editors, through a misplaced kindness I presume, have given Rundle the right of reply. Rather, the right to self-evisceration.

In fact, the article of mine he quotes from began with the suggestion that the "most humane result" would now be a quick coalition victory. Had the Iraqis fought back tooth and nail against the coalition, my support would have been with them and against our troops – for whatever that is worth to anybody. Given the partial nature of Iraqi resistance, the article was an expression of profound doubt about what to hope for.

Did you get that? My country's enemy is only worth supporting if it's killing lots and lots of my fellow-citizens.

If our enemies neglect to do that, I get confused.

Uncle has neve identified dissent with treachery.

It takes a man of enormous moral vanity and intellectual perversity to invent a kind of dissent that is devoid of any other meaning.

Unless you think that Rundle really does love murderous tyrants like Saddam Hussein. Or like the ones his intellectual progenitors used to love - Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, even if they fail to produce collectivist rhetoric.

Wednesday, April 09, 2003
TALENTS WITHOUT THE KOW-TOW. Jim T is worried about struggling journalist Kerry O'Brien's expert panel.

Promising careers cut short through lack of commitment to the cause! Bet we don't see them again!

I'd put money on that.


I confess I'm not entirely clear what point you were trying to make
with your the two posts cited from the ABC website. The pro JDL (which
incidentally whitewashes the JDL's record considerably: a member has
recently been sentenced to 15 years odd in California for plotting to blow
up the office of an Arab American and there are pretty sound reasons
why Israel has outlawed bodies with members such as the late Baruch
Goldstein) letter obviously runs counter to the general anti Israel
perspective of the ABC and the anti gulf war letter is aligned with the ABC's
views. But are you suggesting that both views should have been deleted
from the message board, one of them or neither? I'd say both are
probably those of ratbags with little useful to say about the middle east
but I don't see why they shouldn't appear on a message board.

comments Charles C.

If you look at the presentation of the Butler rant, you'll see that it is - or was on Monday - given prominence, in positioning and typography. Like anti-war letters in Henny Herald.

The JDL rant has to take its place in the queue of readers' comments that no-one reads.

FREE-FIND site searching now is working.

OBEDIENT TO UNCLE'S CALL, provincial blogger Bernard Slattery makes a reasoned case for conserving taxpayer's dollars.

Later. You think Uncle is unkind to the Slattsperson. How's this for provincial: [Blainey] wrote a wonderful little piece once about attending Geelong matches as a boy. He recalled sitting in the Brownlow Stand, inhaling the intoxicating mixed aroma of linament and boiling savaloys wafting up through the floorboards.

HAVING LOST THE WAR the jihadis of the ABC are now determined to win the peace. It is, after all, the more difficult struggle.

David Marr, presenter of Other People's Media Watch, is doing his bit by slagging off at those networks who refuse to mimic al Jazeera.

On Monday night he and his gruesome crew presented to us an al Jazeera operative standing in front of some civilian wounded. She gave us a polemic to the effect that these few hard cases proved that the US policy of minimising civilian casualties was a fraud. Pure and simple.

Marr commended her for her passion. And, presumably, for her veracity.

Much better, Marr thinks, than the terrible Miranda Devine, who called the Islamic fascist terrorists flocking to help Saddam "cockroaches".

Of course, Miranda Devine is right, and al Jazeera wrong.

At least we know what side Auntie's jihadis are on.

AFTER ONLY THREE WEEKS we have the dancing in the streets of Baghdad. Auntie's national TV news tonight missed it. Too busy celebrating the civilian casualties, concluding with the Herald-Age's Saddam songbird Paul McGeogh that the shelling of the journalists in the Palesting Hotel was deliberate - on the basis of no evidence at all, and looking forward to an indefinite future of looting and chaos on the streets.

Meanwhile the crowds in Baghdad chant "Saddam is God's enemy" according to the BBC. Do they mean an even bigger enemy than Bush?

ON SUNDAY, Lane, a Radio National broadcaster, wrote of his sense of inner celebration whenever the Iraqi military scores a victory against the coalition. A former Church of Christ minister, he told of feeling compelled to pray for the defeat of "the coalition of the cruel", and wrote: "I want the army of my country, which is engaged in an act of gross immorality, to be defeated."

According to Imre Saluszinsky in today's Australian.

Lane's fellow Marxist Guy Rundle would settle for a long-drawn-out, bloody, Pyrrhic victory for the Americans:

But there is still the possibility of a long conflict that drags in Iraq's neighbours: "Bloody as such a result may be, it may be for the best in the long run because it is the only result that would set limits to future adventures." He's obviously trying for Lane's job with Auntie.

This Saluszinsky fellow is good. He should be running a blog.

Monday, April 07, 2003

These aren't Auntie's words either.

Interesting that you class the JDL ('Terrorist Supporter a School Teacher'), a small vigilante group with little support among Jews, as a terrorist group even though to date it has little history of actual terrorism, yet Islamic Jihad, Hamas, Hizbollah, Fatah and the Al Aqsa brigades are routinely described a militant or activist groups even though they claim to have murdered hundreds of people and caused thousands of casualties.
JDL's 'illegality' centres around its philosphy that the removal of Arabs from Israel through transfer and land buyouts is the only real solution to the 'Palestinian' problem. (A solution adopted by Kuwait after the 1991 Gulf War.) While radical in the late 1980's, the concept is obviously sound since it matches the current UN policy to transfer Jews out of the area.
(Israel incorporates .01% of the Middle East - it fits 23 times into Tasmania - and slicing off bits will of course mollify the Arab world.)
Israel's Supreme Court that could kindly be described as left-leaning, will happily outlaw any thought of Arab transfer and consequently JDL/Kach, but allows Arab parties that praise those who murder Israeli children as 'heroes' to sit in the Israeli parliament.
So why the describe the JDL as a 'terror' group? If killing families attracts the label of 'activist' surely having semi-radical opinions does not mean you are a terrorist? Just ask any Anti-War protester.


Visit Time 16:46:52 07 Apr, 2003 EST

From Auntie's 4 Corners website.

Baghdad will fall within days. Saddam will be killed, the Iraqi armyrouted, and the Ba’ath Party relegated to the garbage bin of history. Democracy will bloom, and peace and tranquility will descend on Iraq, and then the entire Middle East. Muslim radicals will transform en masse into social democrats. There will be no more war or terrorism, and everyone will live happily ever after. Even the mothers of children whose limbs have been blown off by allied cluster bombs will, in the words of the British Defence Secretary, "one day" thank Britain for their use. So goes the chimerical script plotted by the Bush administration and their coterie of neo-conservative advisors.

No, those aren't the words of 4 Corners either.

But they are running on Auntie's website.

AS THE US DEFEATS on the margins of Baghdad move closer and closer to each other, Auntie's communards are re-grouping rapidly around the tattered banner of the intolerable consequences of America's disgustingly easy victory. And the intolerably unbalanced way their US media counterparts told a truer story than Auntie did.

On the 7.30 report, fronted by that adequate journalist, Kerry O'Brien, we were told by a talent who makes Bob Brown look congenial, someone the minders dragged out of a never-before-heard-of think tank, that the unprecedented, and largely uncensorable coverage provided by the embedded reporters was far too immediate. No integration. No reflection.

We are expected to forget that there were thousands of other, un-embedded reporters behind the dust-clouds to do that for us.

We were also expected to forget the performance of the ABC's reporters embedded in the Iraqi back-lines in Baghdad, and the Iraq friendly capital of Jordan, whose reports were fatuous where they weren't taken straight from CNN, and useless when they were.

And Kerry's expert panel still flatly refuses to agree with his leading on WMD. Kerry wants them to be struck by their absence from the materiel captured by the Americans, and, at the same time, to speculate about whether or not Saddam will use them now.

For all their patriotic puffery, the US media provided a better appreciation of the progress of the war than did Auntie's serial commentators.

Opinion: Liberation through Occupation?
Amir Butler, executive director of the Australian Muslim Public Affairs Committee (AMPAC) asks if America is "anymore sincere in its objective of "freeing" the Middle East than the British were in "freeing" Iraq from the Turks during World War I".

The opinions expressed in this piece are not the opinions of Four Corners

True. But the selection and placement of the commentary are.

Sunday, April 06, 2003
FEAR AND LOATHING abounds on Radio National tonight as left-hysteric David Marr is given a solid slab of peak time to push his new book on the Tampa stunt and the SIEV X conspiracy theory.

What David fears and loathes is not any of the external dangers this hostile world poses for his little country. It is the overwhelming majority of his fellow countrymen that drive him to the brink of despair.

Why? They support John Howard's policies, or worse.

There is a new conservative consensus threatening to stifle the sensitive intellectual life of this country.

He doesn't even mention the possibility of the Australia Council's funds drying up, or the dole being taken away from self-defined artists, so it must be pretty terrible.

Whatever it is, David has the answer. It is a collective project for all writers. Someone has to take the lead.

You should all sit down and write the new horror, the spectre of the 1950s, that stalks the land.

Patrick White did, and he got the Nobel Prize for it.

The rest of you will just have to make do with gigs with Auntie.


When Pastor Terry Lane, the communard for after Sunday service, apologises to someone he just insults someone else.

According to his own version (no transcript), in last week's coverage of the Cole Royal Commission into the building industry, the Pastor said that Commissioner Cole had "inevitably" concluded that the building unions were "a criminal mob".

He now feels constrained to apologise to the building unions and retract, whether from conscience or a threatened writ he fails to say.

The inevitable implication of his retraction is that Commissioner Cole was prejudiced against the building unions, and had reached his conclusions before hearing the evidence. Which is what the unions believe.

Will Pastor Lane now apologise to Commissioner Cole, who has been abused by bigger boofheads than our whining Marxist preacher? Scourge me if I'm wrong, but I don't think so.

Lane attributes his embarrassment to a misjudged essay at editorialising on the radio. He promises not to do it again.

Since most of the Pastor's contributions are serial editorial commentary, in future the program In the National Interest will consist of guests' statements with short interruptions of, Uncle supposes, music.