November 11th 2006

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Articles from this issue:

EDITORIAL: Iraq after the U.S. elections

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Beazley relishes coming fight for workers' rights

ECONOMIC AFFAIRS: A clear lack of joined-up government

BUSHFIRES: Comprehensive approach needed to fight fires

WESTERN AUSTRALIA: Political identities probed by corruption body

VICTORIA: The ALP's abortion agenda

STRAWS IN THE WIND: The nuclear horror house / The return of religions / Arrogant Muslims / The hit-man society

SPECIAL FEATURE: 'I can never forget them': a memoir of the 1956 Hungarian uprising

OPINION: Ethics needed in science, medicine and politics

Water trading: the consequences (letter)

Country people left to choke on the dust (letter)

Chris Masters' grab for cash and fame (letter)

CINEMA: A future world without children

BOOKS: LOST! Australia's Catholics Today, by Michael Gilchrist

BOOKS: THE BABY BUSINESS: How money, science, and politics drive the commerce of conception, by Debora L. Spar

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The nuclear horror house / The return of religions / Arrogant Muslims / The hit-man society

by Max Teichmann

News Weekly, November 11, 2006
The nuclear horror house

We can all indulge in the somewhat tiresome game of "I told you so" ... the Vietnam War, the invasion of Iraq, whatever. But there are a few dangers of such cosmic significance as to bestow the right to upbraid those who denied, or suppressed, the reality of these cosmic threats. One example, I think, is global warming; another the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

By the time you read this, a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation documentary called Nuclear Jihad: Can Terrorists Get the Bomb? would have appeared. It shows how the spread of nuclear devices - or, in the first instance, the necessary materials and know-how to make, and use, these weapons - is not merely running through what might still credibly be called rogue states, but through the whole terrorist underworld. And, possibly, in the future, the criminal world as well. That is, if it is still possible to maintain that distinction.

The finger may be pointed at a number of villains, but there is little doubt that Pakistan, and its chief nuclear scientist, Abdul Quadier Khan, are the most energetic threats to any kind of order, let alone peace in the world.

Khan is protected by Pakistan, (just as Al Qa'eda has been), because he is "a hero to the Pakistan people". Readers should ponder the moral implications of that.

The original reason for the U.S. making the bomb was not merely to speed up the surrender of Japan in 1945 and "save lives"; it was to counter the overwhelming land armies of the Soviets, and later, China.

The West could not win a conventional war, and the Europeans for one were unlikely to turn out to defend Europe - or many Asians. So a threat to destroy an unacceptable number of the enemy's cities, production centres, and people was made, and given flesh. This was the ultimate deterrent - nuclear war.

We know the rest. Russia made a bomb; Britain, then France made one; China made one; later, Israel, India and Pakistan made bombs. The whole point of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) was to stop this process, by having at least one nation, Britain, give up the bomb - in the hope that others would follow suit.

They probably wouldn't have. The idea seemed quixotic, even at the time, but worth a try. But it failed. The history of the nuclear arms race ever since has been the attempts by those already possessing nuclear weapons to dissuade or pressure others not to take them up. This strategy, too, has failed.

If the new revisionist states now making the bomb appear as some of the most myopic, reckless and politically inexperienced states in the world system, what would one say of a morality and sanity of the criminal terrorist groups and movements?

I cannot see any easy path in combating either of these lethal political cultures, particularly as, in the West, too many people are going into denial; others will refuse to abandon their petty political schemes and material appetites; while others, I suspect, would secretly enjoy the spectacle of an orgy of murder and destruction.

But I forget myself. One can't speak of the unconscious, or the sadism and despair in the heart of modern man. Such feelings only belong to criminals, or other people, don't they?


The return of religions

The Times Literary Supplement (October 13, 2006) has a large section, "New Ways in History", the same title as a similar survey of 30 years ago. And how dramatic the subject matter of history, and the ways in which we approach the subject have changed!

But among the many excellent essays is one, "Religion's return", by Lamin Sanneh - perhaps of special interest to our readers. Sanneh, professor of world Christianity and of history at Yale, draws attention to the following:

"The total world population, in 1900, was 1.6 billion; Muslims numbered just below 200 million, Christians 558 million. In 1970, total world population was 3.7 billion with a Muslim population of 549 million, and Christians at 1.2 billion.

"In 2006, out of a world population of over 6 billion, Muslims numbered 1.3 billion, and Christians 2.15 billion, including 1.3 billion Catholics."

Charismatic Christians are behind the leap in Christian numbers. Sanneh points out: "In 1900, there were 981,000 Pentecostals; in 1970, over 72 million; and in 2005, nearly 590 million." By 2025, they - that is, the Pentecostals/Charismatics. - may reach 800 million. Sanneh describes them as "exploding in Brazil, Mexico, Russia and China".

"The vast majority of Latino immigrants to the U.S.," he says, "are Pentecostal, with a strong Catholic overlay." Once there, alliances are being formed with U.S. evangelical groups, such as the Christian Coalition.

The effects upon U.S. politics are yet to be calculated. Similarly, if the Charismatics keep rising and rising, the effects upon the more traditional mainline churches are going to be very interesting.

Prima facie, if militant Islam and Christian Charismatics, with their talk of conversions, jihads and crusades, end up confronting one another, we may have yet another cause for conflict, another spanner in the wheel of world order.

But one thing at least is certain: the confident predictions - predictions made by Marxists and many Enlightenment figures - of the disappearance of religions and the shrinkage of Christianity to a condition of impotent apologetics seem to have got things wrong somewhere.

As to Friedrich Nietzsche's famous announcement that "God is dead", certainly the feeling that this is so has had a very destabilising effect upon the feelings and the behaviour of many people, and many societies.

But it would appear that many other people haven't heard the news, and of those who have, more and more refuse to believe it.


Arrogant Muslims

The intransigence - if you like defiance - of large sections of our Muslim community in discussing the behaviour of their mufti, Sheikh Hilali, and associated matters, repays some reflection.

We have never had this kind of trouble with any other ethnic minority before. We have never, so far as I can remember, had a state of continuous friction between a migrant minority and the main society, for we have never had minority leaders making direct attacks on all who do not conform with their views on religion, on politics, on attire, etc. - at least, not as a daily diet.

It is extraordinary that critics of Australia's public and political responses to these unwholesome ethnic antics, should accuse us of being racist. As I said, virtually no other ethnic or religious group has drawn such responses. The fault is not in the stars, but in us.


The hit-man society

Peter Coleman, in an excellent article on James McAuley in Quadrant magazine (October 2006), subjects the book by Cassandra Pybus on that poet, The Devil and James McAuley (1999), to a merciless demolition.

A grant of $100,000 was supplied to Ms Pybus to do this "job", and Coleman is moved to ask: Why? Who? And for what purpose was this quite discreditable and easily refuted attack on McAuley carried out?

But worse, far worse, has been the ABC-financed "study" by Four Corners trusty, Chris Masters, of the career and personal life of Sydney broadcaster Alan Jones, who, among many things, is a friend of the Prime Minister John Howard.

So long as people such as Jones and, before him, John Laws, exist and provide powerful alternative voices to the Left hegemony, they will not only be under continuous attack, but subject to smears to destroy their characters and careers.

As I have pointed out in the past, Jones and such DJs, by providing Howard and intelligent others with a venue, entirely scuppered the whole Left media game of Monopoly.

Any lies, beat-ups, falsifications, sleazy innuendos could be swiftly picked up by Howard, in person, and later pursued by people like Jones. We haven't had a level playing-field in the media since its inception; but the variety and popularity of talkback radio have changed things, for a politician who is adept and listener-friendly, as Howard has been.

The ABC and Co. have no-one of the faintest equivalent appeal or intellectual flexibility with whom to match the Prime Minister. So we see this sort of thing. Standard fare in Putin's Russia, and in South America - but a new stage in the professional degradation of "our ABC".

As to the allegations about Jones's sexuality and the endless touting for the Gay Lobby, the Mardi Gras, same-sex marriage, gay priests and teachers, etc. - not to mention the late-night sleaze programs by the public media and the Left - show that these people have no shame and are devoid of any sincerity.

These are things to which our Muslim friends rightly object, and for which they despise us - unfortunately in toto, even though we don't all share the values of the ABC/SBS.

Each federal election campaign - for that is what this Alan Jones business is all about - is more vulgar, hypocritical and socially destructive than the one before.

- Max Teichmann.

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