April 10th 2004

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: Economic underclass behind marriage and fertility decline

EDITORIAL: Uncommunicative patients - a call on our compassion

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Latham Iraq gaffe signals the honeymoon is over

STRAWS IN THE WIND: The next Four Corners? / Granada

SOCIETY: Who benefits from drugs?

AGRICULTURE: Farmers rallying to fight for industries

ECONOMY: Australia's foreign debt set to grow

The Passion (letter)

Sugar prices (letter)

Tobacco and pharmaceuticals (letter)

Ageing population (letter)

ETHICS: The ethical responsibility of a Christian politician

ECONOMY: US-Australia Free trade agreement and the national interest

TAIWAN ELECTION: Saved by commonsense

PAKISTAN: Inside Pakistan's nuclear weapons program

HONG KONG: Poll battle looms over democratic reforms

BOOKS: Benign or Imperial? Reflections on American Hegemony, by Owen Harries

FILM REVIEW: The Last Samurai

Books promotion page

The next Four Corners? / Granada

by Max Teichmann

News Weekly, April 10, 2004
The next Four Corners?

In a recent Weekend Australian, modestly reposing in a side column, was a little gem. The Wall Street Journal has drawn fresh attention to the Iraqi oil-for-food program which started in 1996 under the aegis of the United Nations. The plan was "to sell Iraqi oil in exchange for food and medicines to alleviate the impact of sanctions on ordinary Iraqis". We now know that Saddam pocketed US$4.7 billion for himself and another US$2 billion for UN diplomats, friendly politicians and "a host of others".

The Iraqi newspaper Al Mada published what it said was an official Oil Ministry list of 270 former Iraqi Cabinet officials plus politicians, political activists and journalists from more than 46 countries who apparently "skimmed" money from the program.

The foreign friends' list contains many French and Russians - a former French Interior Minister, Charles Pasqua, and the Director of the Russian President's office being among the principal beneficiaries; along with the UN Assistant Secretary General who ran the program from October 1997.

Faced with an insistent demand by the US and others for an independent inquiry, Kofi Annan said the UN was now doing its own. An official had "started the investigation to see how far he can go", adding that further approval of the UN Security Council might be required. As a political commentator from the New York Post said, "It looks to me like the UN is stonewalling and dragging its feet."

William Safire in the New York Times put it more bluntly. Asking whether the Security Council would appoint an independent counsel to "clean house in an inept or corrupt Secretariat", he answers his own rhetorical question. "No, because France and Russia had their hands in the kickback till."

Anyway, according to London's Daily Telegraph, the Iraqi Governing Council is doing its own investigation of this UN rip-off. Writing to Kofi Annan, one of its advisers Claude Hankes-Driesma said, "It will not come as a surprise if the oil-for-food program turns out to have been one of the world's most disgraceful scams ... providing an opportune vehicle for Saddam Hussein to operate under the UN aegis to continue his reign of terror and oppression." Of course ... although Annan must be tired of being told things he knew perfectly well from the beginning.

In all this surface chaos the roles of France, Russia and, panting along in the rear, Schroeder's Germany, have been consistent from start to finish. They helped arm Saddam until the eve of his invading Kuwait - as had Britain and America. France had in fact been installing a nuclear plant in Iraq - eminently suited for bomb-making - until the Israelis took it out in 1981. (Imagine if they'd left it!)

A little earlier, France flew Khomeini back to Iran.

After the first Gulf War, these three would-be great powers surreptitiously aided Saddam in every possible way while living off the oil-for-food aid program.

After 9/11 and the explosion of world terrorism, they tried to stop the US from doing anything about dealing with Saddam or dealing with terrorism - as have their sympathisers in the Western neo-Marxist diaspora.

After the coalition victory, the leaders of the unwilling have thrown their weight against all attempts to make a democratic Iraq which would be independent of the worst elements of the European political and corporate class, the Russians and the UN NGOs' extortionate humbug corporations. They are still doing so.

Therefore ritual pronouncements that the UN and aid NGOs should take over "in the interim", should be measured by their ongoing performance in Kosovo. UN peacekeepers were either standing watching the Albanians torching what remains of the historic Serb presence and the ethnic cleansing of the remaining Serbs or, when they didn't watch, it was because they had driven away to a safe distance.

The UN peacekeeping troops supposed to replace the coalition in Afghanistan have not dared to venture far from Kabul, while the NGOs keep one foot on the plane lest a bomb go off.

The Pakistanis - with American help - are going to have to protect the Afghans.

Most Iraqis don't want the coalition to go until they feel safe, i.e., free from attacks from raiders coming from Iran and Syria, backed by ... whom?

Enough of this has filtered through here to fillet the anti-American, anti-Iraq war protest movement. The long-planned demonstrations in Australia were miserable failures. Two thousand turned up in Melbourne to hear the father of an imprisoned suspected terrorist. Next day, far larger numbers of people turned up on bikes to celebrate something or other quite different.

In Sydney, a purported 6,000 were addressed by Mr Charisma himself - Andrew Wilkie - now running as a Green. Dissatisfied by the manifestly generous numbers count by the rest of the media, the ABC raised the figure to 8,000. But as my sister says, some people can't even lie straight in bed.

Up in the wilds of Brisbane, Lawrence of Amnesia exhorted what looked like the overflow from a two-up game on matters concerning the joys of resentment, biliousness and alienation. No other Labor entity showed up - for the cause appears dead and increasingly hazardous for those needing to appear even half-patriotic.

Bob Brown and Mark Latham wisely sought refuge in the Apple Isle where they pledged their togetherness under the largest, oldest piece of wood in the district. It might make a good election plank. I fear Latham might have dug a new hole for himself there.

But back to world and European terrorism. Having since the early 1960s been a permissive host to terrorist groups and to a terrorist culture which was always overtly anti-American, Western and South European countries now face a grave threat - they say. Britain is calling upon them - via the EU - to organise, as a matter of great urgency, a Europe-wide anti-terrorist organisation, rather like the FBI or Interpol.

The EU will do nothing - for they think they have a proper understanding with the terrorists and the countries backing them. They fancy that they are immune, so only their joint enemies - the British and Americans - would cop it. Like, rather earlier, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States bought immunity from terrorism and radical threats to their shaky regimes by paying terrorists to stay away and to attack others. Hamas and Hezbollah, for example, loved their attentions, while marking them down too for ultimate removal.

The Greek Games should go off OK - if the terrorists keep their word. It should provide enough hush money to fund a dozen major operations. Meanwhile 57 per cent of Iraqis said life was better than it was a year ago, and 71 per cent expect it to be better still in another 12 months. Fifty-five mass graves containing 300,000 victims of Saddam have so far been discovered. Although rarely reported or evaluated by our media, as against Serb-initiated mass graves. Still, just enough information appears to have got through to convince most habitual marchers to stay away. The ALP would be well-advised to do the same.


In 1988 I went to Spain with my 13-year-old son to visit another older son who was teaching for a year in Barcelona. Barcelona had a "New Town" (actually centuries old) where the action and the tourists were - and beautiful it was. But it also had a very old town, dating back at least to the time of the Phoenicians. It stretched down to the port area and was a kind of Casbah. A strong Moorish influence, myriad alleyways, dark narrow streets, silent buildings. My eldest son warned us not to venture there. Crime, drugs, illegal Moorish immigrants and prostitution. Many killings and criminal turf wars. There were two police forces - one very tough for the old part; the other benign and helpful for the "new" town. In the old, tourists were regularly mugged or robbed but nothing made the papers.

I asked my hotel manager if this was true. After some hesitation he agreed. Staring at my young son, he said, "Don't go down there." "Why," I asked, "were these killings and muggings not reported in the media? My eldest Spanish-speaking son tells me that they aren't."

"Because it would be bad for tourism," he replied, waving his hand at the hotel. "And bad for Barcelona," he added, being a Catalan.

"These crimes are mainly coming from illegal immigrants and their crime gangs," I observed.

"Oh yes they are," he said.

If the police know them, I wondered, why don't they deport them?

He smiled, but it was an embarrassed smile. "We want to keep on good relations with the Arab countries, particularly Morocco, which is so close."

"Look," he said, "one of our papers. I give it to you. And ask your Spanish-speaking son to read the part on Andalusia and Khomeini. Now, I must do some work."

The article contained an address by Khomeini claiming that the ejection of the Moors from the land of Andalusia in 1492 would not be allowed to stand: "Andalusia is a Moorish province, a jewel of the Muslim empire in Spain and we will see that it returns."

Al Qaeda was repeating this just the other day.

Spain had a very corrupt Socialist Government before this most recent incumbent, the regime resembling that of Papandreou in Greece. People smugglers had no problem nor the drug cartels. Barcelona was the principal drug reception point for Europe for quite a time. Terrorists moved round with relative impunity. Prime Minister Gonzales was a close ally of Chirac. Tiring of the corruption, the illegals and the state of the economy, Spaniards threw the Socialists out.

The electorate were apparently set to reject the Socialists again when the bombing, timed for the election, drove the country into a cul-de-sac which it now occupies.

Al Qaeda expected a domino effect among the weaklings of the West following the Madrid bombing and they were right. For example, the repercussions are observable among the Left here. Total political opportunism.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn predicted in the late 1970s that so corrupt and timorous were the ruling elites of the West, supported by their liberals and their Left, that they would roll over and surrender in the event of any major threat. They had lost all courage and would sacrifice anything and anybody, to preserve their blindly selfish lives in peace, at least for a little longer.

The masses would be helpless because they were leaderless. There were many patriotic people in the West but they would be marginalised. His predictions seem near the mark. Except for the last one: where the struggle is still on, at least in some places.

As von Clausewitz tells us, the aim in war is to "break the enemy's will". His will to resist; to go on fighting. The means chosen will vary from case to case. Threats, propaganda, subversion, blockade, or such violence as is necessary to destroy the opponent's will to exist. He will retreat, try to negotiate, then collapse.

This is what the global terrorists and their allies are now trying, and we, in our heart of hearts, all know it.

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