February 18th 2006

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: AWB biggest scandal to hit the Howard Government

EDITORIAL: Tide turns on global capitalism

SCHOOLS: Why our children don't know history

ECONOMICS: Sky's the limit with CEO pay increases

EDUCATION AND TRAINING: Engineer shortage hurting economy

RURAL CRISIS: Black Friday for Canadian farmers

MEDICAL: Abortion pill a bonanza for lawyers

STRAWS IN THE WIND: The humbug revolution / Iran / Bush, oil addiction and the environment

AUSTRALIAN SOCIETY: Is pornography just harmless fun?

ENTERTAINMENT: American awards honour traditional values

EAST TIMOR: Will Indonesian military be let off the hook?

WAR ON TERROR: Tackling a home-grown security threat

OPINION: 'Human rights' charter a backward step

OBITUARY: Colin Pike, champion of the underdog

Religious persecution during the Spanish Civil War (letter)

B.A. Santamaria on Toynbee's 'creative minorities' (letter)

BOOKS: MANHOOD: An action plan for changing men's lives, by Steve Biddulph

BOOKS: HEAD OF STATE: The Governor-General, the Monarchy, the Republic and the Dismissal, by Sir David Smith

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The humbug revolution / Iran / Bush, oil addiction and the environment

by Max Teichmann

News Weekly, February 18, 2006
The humbug revolution

Denmark, the home of Hans Christian Anderson, has inadvertently given a harassed world the plot for a black comedy. A newspaper in Aarhus, a venerable university in Denmark, ran a series of cartoons way back in October on the Prophet Mohammed, in one of which the Prophet wore a turban which looked like a bomb. A prefabricated Muslim hot-air balloon has now burst, dumping its contents on the heads of the unbelievers.

It was said that the Danish Government should apologise, punish the paper, pursue the editor, etc, otherwise bad things will happen to Denmark.

An excited local republican told me that there could be a fatwa declared against the Danish royal family, including prominent people who have enjoyed their hospitality, e.g., Richard Butler. (I'm kidding, chaps). But the subsequent public contrition displayed by the Danish PM - which won't get him any votes - only whetted the humbugs' appetites.

However, the Western press have rallied around their beleaguered fellow-entertainers. French, German, Italian, Swiss and Spanish papers ran the offending cartoons. Even a Jordanian one did - just to show the demonstrators what they were demonstrating against, the paper said. Then it was withdrawn. The owner of Le Soir has sacked his editor: so now he has a big row with his staff.

In fact, the Danes have been fed up to the neck with illegal immigrants, abuse of their welfare system and, as a mark of gratitude from their visitors - or, rather, from their libertarian mouthpieces - declarations that the Danes are racist.

Some big political and cultural re-thinks have been going on in Denmark, and northern Europe generally, reflected in electoral change and policy changes. And the fact that newspapers in many other parts of Europe felt emboldened to stick up for the Danes indicates the changes occurring in European perceptions generally.

Over the Tasman, The Dominion Post in Wellington and The Press in Christchurch - two Murdoch papers - ran the cartoons. The president of the Federation of Islamic Associations of NZ Javed Khan was "deeply saddened"; whereas the NZ Ethnic Affairs Minister Chris Carter seemed half off his face.

The newspapers "had ignored their social responsibility and undermined the nation's reputation for tolerance", he thundered. Whereas it is the minister who is guilty of this, as have been most ethnic and multicultural affairs apparatchiki in the West. But times they are a-changin'.

Melbourne's Sunday Herald Sun (February 5, 2006, page 35) has a photo of Muslim protesters at the Danish embassy in London, after the original publication of the cartoons in the Jyllands-Posten.

The protesters held up placards with "Slay those who insult Islam", "Butcher those who mock Islam", "Europe will pay - demolition is on its way!".

I was deeply saddened by those posters: tales from the ethnic funny-farms.

Considering the unremitting abuse, threats and unsolicited violence over the years by these characters - who've hijacked Islam and the whole dialogue concerning Islam - humour is a healthy riposte; and, of course, what tyrants and fanatics hate most of all is humour. Just try cracking a joke about child-care allowances at a state-funded feminist yap-fest!

But this takes us back to the Salmon Rushdie fatwas, coming from the same crowd, now trying to make a Bomb, and threatening to wipe Israel off the map. This also took me back to our Don't-Criticise-China lobby with their admonitions: "It's bad for trade"; "The military situation", etc, etc, and, of course, "Please discourage Chinese defectors with a tale to tell."

And that reminded me of 1938. As a precocious 14-year-old, I read a report, in this same Melbourne Sun, of European journalists having their annual conference/get-together, in Brussels.

The music was to be provided by Josef Schmidt, the most popular singer in Europe (along with Richard Tauber) and greatly loved here. He was a Jew.

The Nazi journalists said they'd leave the conference if he was allowed to appear. The other journos surrendered; so no Schmidt.

It all goes back to fear of a loss of trade and cowardice in the face of psychopaths and bullies - international and domestic.


Iran's determination to make nuclear bombs has never been more obvious. Having flouted all UN directives and ignored all UN criticisms for 20 years; having already acquired guided missiles (sold by Russia) whose only point is to carry nuclear explosives, Iran is quite prepared to tough it out.

Only if her allies, suppliers and sponsors, viz., Russia and China, were to withdraw their support would Iran put her lethal activities on indefinite hold. Iran's position is much stronger than was Hitler's or Mussolini's in the 1930s. They walked out of the League of Nations where they had few friends. Two major players, the US and Russia, took no significant part. America was not even in the League, and Russia was a semi-pariah sitting on the fence.

But Iran has powerful allies on the UN Security Council who have been prepared to block any effective action to deal with Iran, as they and their friends had earlier done on behalf of Saddam and Iraq.

As to the other more respectable UN members, Iran may feel that they will behave as many League of Nations states did: stick to passing resolutions and calling for more negotiations.

As a further deterrent, Iran has threatened to cut off her oil and, given the delicate relationship between supply, reserves and demand, this could be immediately disruptive. Were she to be attacked, though this is unlikely, Iran would expect many of her oil-bearing Muslim allies to support her by imposing their own oil embargoes. And this could trigger off a world economic disaster.

Contemptuous loner

Incidentally, I don't think Iran should totally rely on her "Muslim friends", for Tehran has played the role of a contemptuous loner ever since the advent of Ayatollah Khomeini. She thinks that Russia and China are friends enough.

There are signs that more and more people in the West are becoming sick and tired of the continuous bluster and threatening talk of so many Muslim spokesmen, official and unofficial. So, Western governments are beginning to feel a little freer to stand up to this psychological warfare from these Islamists.

As to the endless suicide-bombings and hostage-takings, they are increasingly counter-productive, impressing, as they do, only the neo-Maoist buffoons in the Western public media.

The only solution to the Middle East oil stranglehold is, as Bush is saying, to stop our addiction, and seek alternatives ... pronto. The Greens should be cheering at this point; but they aren't, for they are primarily horse-and-buggy leftists who see green philosophy as politics - which it is not - and as just another weapon to be used against "the guv'ment".

They deal themselves out of any complex, multi-layered discussion that way, and are doing so here, again.

Bush, oil addiction and the environment

Americans, as President George W. Bush has just reminded us, are addicted to oil. So is the rest of the world; and the Chinese and Indians would like to be, irrespective of the consequences.

The consequences which stand out are environmental and strategic/political. Bush was advocating reforms in the patterns of consumption and in the ways of producing fuel and energy. This would require some striking changes.

The US must cut its dependence on foreign oil imports by 75 per cent over the next 10 years, he said. And it must also obtain substitutes for that oil and, for the use of oil and coal as is presently burnt for power generation.

The reasons for cutting oil imports are strategic and political - to stop the political blackmail being exerted on America and on those countries dependent on importing oil - which means most countries.

By limiting, and artificially varying supply and pushing up prices, almost at will, the world's oil states have been seeking, and obtaining, political and military advantages over others. And disrupting the economic system and undermining political alliance systems. And they have been succeeding.

So America is starting to do what it should have done years ago. The sheer urgency is having the effect of greatly speeding up research and making the US more adventurous and open-minded in seeking alternatives to the existing oil/coal complex.

Close collaboration with Japan - a country perhaps the most advanced in finding solutions for some of these problems - seems America's present strategy.

Having no oil, gas or coal of its own, Japan has a special interest in seeking substitutes and economies of every kind

Although wind, solar and some other kinds of generating power are important, they are likely to remain marginal in dealing with the enormous and exponentially-increasing demands for energy. Thus China says she is going to build a new power station every week.

The only substitute for coal-burning is nuclear power - unless Bush's scientists come up with coal that doesn't produce carbon dioxide.

The problems which threaten to block a worldwide program to build nuclear plants are political and security-related.

To make nuclear power become a major option once more, a world body should be established, able to supervise the location and construction of these power stations; to ensure their maintenance; to protect them from terrorist seizure; and to see that no fuel is available for making nuclear weapons.

Such a régime is necessary and desirable, but how could we get it off the ground?

  • Max Teichmann

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