November 17th 2001


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Articles from this issue:

Cover Story: Widespread support for Development Bank

Editorial: Election 2001 - The issues which must be addressed

TESTIMONIAL: News Weekly: more than a magazine

BIOETHICS: Church leaders reject all human cloning

DEFENCE: Navy League endorses Coastwatch, rejects coast guard

Straws in the Wind: The great wombat race / Inch by inch / Escobar lives!

ECONOMICS: Development Bank - a boost for regional enterprise

COMMENT: Exposing the anti-American Left

Letter: Development Bank

Letter: Pakistan next?

Letter: Knowledge nation

Letter: What jobs?

Afghanistan: War on terror - the scorecard so far

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Baby bonus signals sea-change in family policy

HEALTH: Are too many Australian children over-medicated?

EUTHANASIA: Belgium threatens to go down the Dutch road

ECONOMY: Where competition policy fails

LITERATURE: Nobel winner celebrates life and civilisation

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Straws in the Wind: The great wombat race / Inch by inch / Escobar lives!


by Max Teichmann

News Weekly, November 17, 2001

The great wombat race

By the time most readers have had a chance to start devouring this issue of News Weekly, the election will be over. To, I think, everyone's total satisfaction. An Old Left ex-journo friend, still entrapped in the dream-world of The Age and the ABC, despite a lifetime of observing politics, said that it was the worst election campaign that he could remember. He may well be correct.

I write with another week to go, but barring some last-minute super-beat-up, like the Left's newly-minted concern for the aged (other people's), the result looks close, but foregone. This was supposed to be a Homeric duel, between two champions - no, not Stiffy and Mo, but ... the Two Tenors? But it didn't turn out like that - neither leader is temperamentally suited to such theatricals. Perhaps too serious.

Most of us were relieved, I suspect. We've had our fill of grimacing demagogues, with names like Whitlam, Hawke, Keating and Hewson - all pea and no thimble. While some other readers might not have fully recovered from Bob Menzies.

A couple of State demagogues are still plying their trade - Bracks and Beattie - but I predict stormy weather for both. I suspect that, in complex and insecure times, people want a low-key, sensible party and leader to govern - not an atmosphere of denial, hyperbole, and the pretence that nothing has changed, nor will it, and that everything can be solved by spending more money. This society is already one big credit-card - Argentina beckons.

Many voters have been turned off because they wanted the facts, which include the parties' policies and the reasons for their advocacies. In most cases, the parties have them - but need to rely on the probity of the media; or else endless one-liners, in their political advertising. So masses of voters, while keeping up with the War, and doings of the illegal immigrants, are, as I write, concentrating upon the Cup, the cricket to come, and Christmas.

I heard Bob Brown's plaintive calls the other night, for the 19-to-24-year age group - new voters-to-be - to enrol. This, the night before applications were to close. At that stage, only 49 per cent had enrolled. So much for Stott's appeal to "youth", and Brown to the well-meaning but woolly-minded kids just from school.

In fact, 12 years at school, and too often, three or four more at some tertiary claptrap castle, produce a phobic reaction to general ideas, good and bad, which often lasts for life. Well done, teachers' unions. One way of retaining hegemony.

The idea of the journos, and the advisers, was that we should have an American-style campaign - with massive advertising spending - full of gimmicks, happenings, and sound-bites, like the Republic and the Say Sorry campaigns. The politicians treated like puppets; and the periodic appearance of the Mummies. These Visitors from the Shades, the Underworld, who, instead of crossing the Styx, had moved from Liberal to Labor, or from politics to "business", somewhere back in the mists of time.

The Mummies lay unwieldy curses upon the present government, while croaking "It's Time". Poor wandering souls, who have no place they can call their own. Reduced to playing the Regimental Goat at countless New Class dinners and conferences. Death, where is thy sting?

But Australians don't like such campaigns, being far less addicted to American mass culture than the Spivocracy, who, of course, talk endlessly of oppressive America and the evils of "globalisation".

The voters expected an Anglo-Australian campaign, not a knock-up of Wag the Dog, or Bob Roberts. So they tuned out, and decided for themselves.

Inch by inch ... mile by mile

Taki has been writing some good stuff in The Spectator. Attacked by his proprietor, Conrad Black, for criticising Israel, Taki retreated to writing social fripperies until the October 27 issue, when, having returned to New York, he recovered his voice.

At the moment, Black is silent. It's not normal for a proprietor to hold forth in his own paper, but Black seems intent on proving, beyond all doubt, that every clown wants to play Hamlet.

Yet Taki, having taken out his spleen on New York's (and America's) ghastly New Rich, makes some depressing points, which also bear upon our situation.

As he says, the American people are behind President Bush, but the élite are not. For the moment, they have to keep quiet, and hope Bush fails. Just now, ordinary Americans, coming from "poor working-class close-knit families, who have good manners, are the media's favourite sons." "Replacing drag queens, homosexual activists, and poverty pimps."

And then there are those prepared to be soldiers, asking, not what can my country do for me, but what can I do for my country? Having to give such ordinary, normal people respect, along with their Leader, is almost too much for the decadent venalists of New Age America to bear - for their taste runs to Camelot, Eminem, Clinton, and Monica Lewinsky.

Taki thinks that these people, who control most of the cash and all of the media, who are determined to see other Americans as racists, sexists, and homophobes, will tire of the war and go back to blaming America. Precisely the same kind of people are stirring here, seeing the overthrow of Howard as the only way to regain their threatened status, their nationwide network of rackets. That is, to go back to playing the old game that they were engaged in when the People rudely interrupted them in 1996. But, in reality, that game is finished; whether they weasel back into power, or not.

Finally, returning to Taki, he is struck by the determination of the US media to induce panic, and, it hopes, demoralisation of the public by pumping up the anthrax problem - which, in truth, has claimed very few people. Worse things have happened at sea.

The only person to talk about Australia being a Number Three or Four terrorist target has been Howard's dear friend Peter Costello, who also reintroduced Telstra. Interesting? What other goodies might he not have in store before the election? Doesn't he realise that he's unelectable, and that if he managed to lose his party the election, he'd be finished?

But, to return. Harping about anthrax is bad for the US economy, which brings me back to the real heavyweights against Bush and the War, whom Taki couldn't discuss.

Business, especially Big Business, overextended Business - and our media giants stand out - is, along with most of the world, excepting Australia, in a downward economic cycle. Already fearful of a major fall in shares, they see a stressful, long war as spelling the end of many businesses. US share prices are so inflated, so many companies are heavily geared, that they want the hunt for bin Laden called off. They could be right about the world economy; but a US backdown would make things far, far worse - economically.

Escobar lives!

Rightly, bin Laden should be regarded as a Saudi Pablo Escobar - leading a multi-billion-dollar criminal business, with global reach. His individual operation sells $US8 billion of heroin, of which he takes $1 billion.

Afghanistan, backed by Pakistan - hence the togetherness - sells 80 per cent of the world's heroin. Hence the phalanxes of Pakistani multi-millionaires, in a dirt-poor country. The Taliban was set up by the US and Pakistan to do various jobs.

The al-Qaeda movement is changing in the ways many radical terrorist movements have changed - the Mafia, the Shining Path, the Diaspora Ustasha, the KLA, the IRA, and so on. Only selling drugs to buy arms - of course - while finishing up as essentially criminal extortion machines, and into crime generally; but with an ideological wing. Marxist revolution, Islamic purity, Croat freedom, Irish freedom - you name it. Bin Laden is in the same game, but he has needed powerful friends in the banking, judicial and political systems of Europe and Asia - and he has them.

But, just as an idle exercise, identify the spokesmen here, groups calling for Peace Now, i.e. let bin Laden off the hook; let in the illegal immigrants; and decriminalise narcotics in Australia. You may find an interesting overlap of personnel - one happy family, so to speak - but it's the same the whole world over.

A paradox we are encountering every day on the telly. Refugees in Pakistan are presented, who say that they had to flee for their lives from Afghanistan, because the Taliban would kill them, or imprison them, etc. Quite possible. Therefore, they have a right to come here, without impediment.

But ... the same people who are agreeing with this, are also calling for the end of the war, now - or to suspend the bombing for the UN to bring in food; or out of respect for Ramadan - or anything. At the moment, our electronic media are hoping that the winter snow will frustrate the West (or, sotto voce, cause them losses).

So, the Taliban should be left in possession of Afghanistan, able to persecute and kill their subjects, and maltreat their women and children, as we've had so often described; while a steady stream of asylum seekers flows out, through Pakistan, to Australia - where exponentially growing armies of salaried carers and lawyers, and cheap labour employers, await.

As for the poor devils forced to remain there, and there is a population of 23 millions - stiff cheese. They can only be rescued by a Western military victory, and our caring Left doesn't want that. Let the non-refugees rot - for the Americans can't be allowed to shoot the fox. For, horror of horrors, the refugees in Pakistan could then go back, and be resettled, in Afghanistan.

And, of course, most of our snakeheads' clients aren't Afghans at all. No - I think we should allow the West to try, at least, to destroy this tyranny, and free the Afghans, and help them rebuild. But there are some very tenacious vested interests, overseas and here, trying to prevent this hopeful ending.




























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