March 3rd 2012

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Articles from this issue:

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Labor pushes the self-destruct button

QUEENSLAND: Issues facing voters on March 24

EDITORIAL: Beyond the leadership woes: Labor's identity crisis

RURAL AFFAIRS: Huge cost of abolishing national wheat pool

ENVIRONMENT: Rudd's costly carbon capture scheme a dud

ENVIRONMENT: Earth Hour: World Wildlife Fund publicity stunt

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS: Western media duped by mirage of Arab Spring

UNITED STATES: Obama's left-wing diplomacy a global failure

STOCK MARKET: From mutual associations to profit-seeking enterprises

CIVILISATION: Has Europe lost its soul?

MARRIAGE: Don't blame gay lobby for decline in marriage

EUTHANASIA: Stacking the deck by suppressing contrary views

CINEMA: Baker Street sleuth's new look

BOOK REVIEW Should America have dropped the Bomb?

BOOK REVIEW A child's imagination is a terrible thing to waste

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Western media duped by mirage of Arab Spring

by John Miller

News Weekly, March 3, 2012

It is now just over 14 months since the self-immolation of Mohamed Bouaziz, a Tunisian baker, an event which led to considerable turmoil and unrest across the Middle East and regime changes in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.

The popular term used to designate these changes, the “Arab Spring”, I have long considered to be a confection of the Western media based as it was on the naïve belief that it portended a desire in the region to embrace Western-style democracy.

While the reforms in Tunisia have left us with some grounds for optimism, events in Egypt and Libya have proved to be not only more violent but infinitely more dangerous.

The Western media with its plethora of embedded reporters and local sources still does not realise that it has been the victim of massive misinformation. Our foreign diplomatic services have been blindsided by clever men passing as wise and have been only too willing to believe anything that suggests peace is at hand.

While Egyptian law courts are trying former president Hosni Mubarak and members of his entourage, the crowds still gather in Tahrir Square in seeming defiance of the rule by the supreme council of the Egyptian army. The elections that have taken place have seen a consolidation of power by the Muslim Brotherhood. Most recent assessments conclude that harsh rule by the army will continue until the inevitable clash with the Brotherhood.

As for Libya, the bloody demise of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi has led to an increase in power by groups allied to al Qaeda and, more recently, counter-revolution from the strongholds of the former dictator. Those with eyes to see could not possibly have missed military and other vehicles flying the flag of al Qaeda.

Despite the dreadful on-the-ground happenings daily in the Middle East, the greatest problem facing the West in dealing with fundamentalist Islamic terrorism is that our leaders ignore, at their peril, the metaphorical “elephant on the room”. They continue to refuse to speak up and stand firm in the face of the greatest threat to Western democracy, quite possibly of all time, namely fundamentalist Islamism.

While the Western media waxed lyrical about the prospects of Middle Eastern countries becoming Westernised, they either misconstrued or chose to overlook the critical fact that Muslims in those countries, while they may have been demonstrating for more and better work, increased wages and some measure of political freedom, were not aspiring for Western-style democracy. They are more than willing to accept high technology in the form of consumer durables, in addition to more modern weapons of war.

Two months into 2012, the crisis in the Middle East continues to grow more tense and the prospect of war more likely.

President Bashir Assad of Syria has shown himself to be as ruthless as his predecessors in cracking down on domestic discontent and anti-regime activity. The city of Homs, regarded as something of a bastion of anti-regime activity, has been pulverised from the ground and the air. Pious platitudes from Western leaders have had absolutely no effect on the Syrian leadership, and embargoes and no-fly zones are actively opposed by China and Russia, long-standing suppliers of arms to many of the governments in the Middle East. As President Obama was talking about embargoes on Syria, a Russian flotilla paid a friendly visit, which was well-publicised in the Russian and Chinese media.

At the same time, the US government was making various noises about the Iranian nuclear program and the new Secretary for Defense, Leon Panetta, was once again repeating the mantra that Iran was probably about a year away from acquiring nuclear weapons and delivery systems. I have heard this figure for at least the last four years, possibly longer, and there are indications that the Israeli government believes that Iran will be combat-ready with nuclear weapons in a matter of months.

The Western media continues to talk about the conflict between Ayatollah Mohammed Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinedad, without appearing to notice that both have spoken with one voice calling for the complete destruction of Israel. It is well known that the Iranian president claims to have spoken regularly to the so-called “hidden Mahdi”, a potent, possibly mythical, Islamic figure associated with the Last Days and/or Armageddon.

I have no means of predicting the future, but there are some points that I would like to make. The first is that the Western media has long ceased to be focused on reporting and is more intent on prediction and acting as change agents, activities for which they have absolutely no legitimacy or responsibility. Quite clearly, the Arab Spring was a mirage or pipedream, fanned by wishful thinking.

The fact that wishful thinking has crept into Western government circles at senior levels is a deeply worrying phenomenon. The US administration at senior levels is trying to withdraw troops from Afghanistan.

The Taliban cannot be defeated militarily and cannot be bribed ad infinitum. It continues to astound me that decision-makers in the West choose to ignore the many statements made by Taliban and al Qaeda leaders to the effect that their goals are identical. Across the Muslim world through to Indonesia, every militant fundamentalist Islamic group is sworn to the goal of establishing the Caliphate and asserting domination over the West.

Around the world, it is still widely and naïvely believed that dialogue with the Taliban and al Qaeda should be encouraged and will produce peace.

John Miller is a former senior intelligence officer.

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