Thursday, July 28, 2005


Granny Herald has a columnist, Garth George, who is an interesting if not sometimes extremely irritating person to read. On occasions he can get out as far to the right as George Bush, and on others he can produce some real gems. His column this morning is one of the latter.

He draws attention to the following, a statement issued by the Convenors and Leaders of the main stream Churches of New Zealand. I understand that it is a form of Pastoral to the faithful, a guidance in their deliberations of the forthcoming elections.

Towards a Robust Society:
A statement from New Zealand's Church Leaders

Every three years the electoral cycle reminds us of the inestimable value of democracy, and the opportunity for voter and candidate alike to actively participate in determining the future shape of our society. The period before an election represents a unique opportunity to intensify discussion about the type of society we want to live in. Church leaders welcome the opportunity to contribute towards this discussion. In this paper we seek to highlight the type of society we believe is worth striving for.

In our own discussions we frequently turn to the word “robust” in describing the type of society we would like to see in New Zealand. The word robust means vigorous or strong, words that need some explanation or qualification when used to describe society. The Latin origin adds another dimension to the understanding of robust – it is derived from robur meaning oak, a reference to a tree known for its sturdiness and vigorous growth. In our Christian tradition there is a parallel in the story of the mustard seed, the smallest of seeds that grew larger than any other plant and provided places for many birds nesting in its branches. To be robust our society must offer to everyone support and opportunity, shelter and freedom, resources and vision.

Understanding ourselves as persons in community
Underpinning each person’s vision for society will be a number of assumptions about what it means to be human. We think there are range of views of the human person at work in our society that can be characterized by two broad emphases. The first tends to regard each person primarily as an autonomous individual, each with his or her own needs, aspirations and interests. This view places a strong emphasis on such things as realizing individual potential, pursuing individual goals, and preserving individual freedom. It often refers to such things as self-esteem and self-interest. Noticeably lacking from this perspective are references to other people and the common good. As a result, the view of society that tends to emerge is that of a conglomeration of individuals, each exercising their individual rights, and whose obligation towards others is largely derived from overlapping areas of self-interest. The consumer mindset tends to reinforce this utilitarian perspective.

Giving priority to the wellbeing of world and neighbour
In addition to its commitment to a relational view of the human person the Christian tradition maintains that human activity is characterised by an interplay between freedom and restraint. The freedom we aspire to is not the unrestrained freedom of the autonomous individual; it is freedom that learns to identify and respect certain parameters and responsibilities, including a commitment to the integrity and health of the natural world, and is utterly bound up with the wellbeing and freedom of one’s neighbour.

The second is derived from the conviction that our humanity is constituted most profoundly by our relationships. Neglect those relationships, and both personal wellbeing and society suffer as a result. These relationships include both family and neighbour. We are persons in community.

It is this relational view of the human person that is most often promoted by cultural and religious groups in our society. It carries with it a holistic view of personal wellbeing including, for many people, a spiritual dimension through which we acknowledge a transcendent reference point to our understanding of human dignity and purpose.

A relational view of the human person further suggests that the good of the individual and the common good are not opposing poles – properly understood, they are part of one another. The common good must aim at what is best for the individual, and what is best for the individual must include a commitment to the common good e.g. women and men, families, cultural groups, low and high income groups, business leaders and working people.

A robust society is one that encourages and values the contribution of all people towards the common good. In the Christian scriptures the story of the widow’s mite tells of a woman being commended for giving, not out of her wealth but out of her poverty, not with a mean-spiritedness but with spirit of generosity, not out of coercion or self-interest but out of a sense of gratitude. It is a story about life in community in which the contribution of the most vulnerable is valued. It is a story that speaks to every generation about one of the building blocks of a robust society. The challenge facing all of us, and particularly our leaders, is to shape our society in a way that reflects what is best in our human nature.

Archbishop John Dew The Catholic Church in New Zealand
Bishop Muru Walters Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia
Right Reverend Garry Marquand Moderator Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand
Rev Ron Malpass President The Methodist Church of New Zealand
Rev Brian Winslade National Leader Baptist Churches of New Zealand
Commissioner Garth McKenzie Territorial Commander The Salvation Army New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga Territory

Having read that edited version (there is not a lot that I have left out) you will have noted my emphasis on some sections.

Commentary on the whole Pastoral is welcomed, but I would like to hear from the likes of Fraser Stern and Robert on the relationship between individual and freedom that these men of the cloth promote.

Quite apart from the serendipity of this appearing in the press the day after my last post, I was quite surprised at the correlation between some of the thoughts of these august gentlemen and some of the ideas that I was trying to express in my last post.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

An individual in nirvana...

Opening comment - please, if I take any one of the illustrious people I have quoted as an example, it is to examine the principle, not to try and make error out of their statement or to prove me correct and them wrong. It is a matter of trying to align pictures to see what is different rather than "right" or "wrong".

TF Stern has taken a look again at the relationships between "freedom" and religion - "A Line Drawn in the Sand"

As a collective of individual's intent on accomplishing the highest forms of liberty and freedom, there was a compromise made which would insure that the delicate balance of individual agency and the common good of the collective was met. This delicate balance is in jeopardy today because part of the foundation upon which such a fragile form of government was established has been compromised; that being the once strong restraining factors brought to bear on the vast majority of citizens in and by the knowledge that there are Christian values that fill in the gaps left by man's imperfect laws and ordinances. To exclude this part of the foundation, an integral part of a working whole society, even later as it evolves into a more "mature" population, is to bring about its own destruction.

We may step back and say that we are tolerant of other's right to believe and express themselves in any number of ways, provided those beliefs and those expressions do not upset the delicate balance necessary to insure stability to the foundation upon which we all depend.

Here is where we as Americans have turned a blind eye, believing that any and all forms of expression are part of our inherent freedom and liberty and that any and all are to be tolerated and even pursued. Such unwarranted toleration has led to degradation of the most noble of human desires, to become worthy heirs to all that our Father in Heaven has. In our pride and our abandoning of Christian values, once an integral part of the fabric of our everyday lives, we have abandoned the sure footing that was intended to guide our society through all times, good and bad. It is not enough to permit individuals their right to continue in their religious belief in a Christian setting; for that is still permissible, the changing environment mentioned by Brad, is that there has been a shift in the percentage of those who adhere to the laws as found in the Holy Scriptures, which go well beyond any laws and ordinances created and set in motion by men.

When I stated that I may not be ready for the Brave New World, one in which the vows of marriage no longer contain the affirmation that such was ordained of God, that such is intended to last until the end of days or that such is intended to be a binding of a man and a woman as husband and wife; then the foundation upon which that society is based has been usurped. When the citizens of a once noble society, one in which our Creator was revered and honored, now refrain from giving Him their respect and obedience; instead insist that their government is the provider of liberty and the provider of freedom, then it becomes only a matter of time when that society will become debased and unworthy of the blessings of that Creator who once they counted on for those liberties and freedoms.

The Christian belief in the Resurrection is central to the idea which I am discussing, an understanding of the state of man being able to defeat the mortal death by virtue of a Savior, even Jesus Christ. When our Founders went about the process of defining the parameters of our government, most of our citizens had a common thread, that our lives would be judged in a more important court setting, one in which our eternal souls would be placed in after mortality. While the intricacies of the Resurrection have been debated by almost every denomination, the fact remains that as a whole, the Resurrection and all that it entailed was held sacred and a part of the reason for holding to a life of worth and good character.


The concept of having to be accountable to God for your life here in mortality, the reward of having been restored into a body, that body being in the image of either perfect sin or perfect obedience as a reflection of the choices made during mortality, that concept has been the foundation of our society and the ability to contain debauchery and the carnal state of man, not the government's rules and ordinances.

When I hear that we must be tolerant of the deviant carnal members of our society, that is not the same as permitting these degenerates the ability to remove the foundation upon which our society depends by altering our concepts of liberty and freedom to mean disobedience and rebellion to God's commandments and the eternal laws which have always been in place, regardless of man's acceptance of them. We will all have to stand before the bar of justice, explain our transgressions and our willingness to be obedient or the lack thereof. I am not accountable for the sins of any other mortal being, however, I am responsible and accountable to God for advising my fellow mortal beings of the truths which I am aware of; anything less would in itself be slothful and undeserving of blessings.

The Libertarian Robert has picked up on the same theme, concluding...

While I certainly recognize the freedom of others to think and say whatever they like, I reserve the right to think and speak in opposition to any and every idea that is ultimately aimed at limiting my liberties and the liberties of similar dissenting views. In effect, various moralists and culturalists set themselves up as a mob of social dictators, who insist upon conformity to standards of their choosing, while rejecting the same treatment in reverse. The classic American example is illustrated in the form of partisan politics. Both the Left and the Right spend inordinate amounts of cash to seat their candidates, with the express purpose of imposing their ideological will upon everyone. All the while, they rather hypocritically decry the Islamists for having the selfsame goals. But to be fair, where the latter ignores the right to Life (suicide murderers), the former ignores the right to Liberty and Property (The New Deal, The Great Society, Reich, Kelo, prayer in public schools, "blue laws", McCain-Feingold, the FCC, etc., etc., etc.).


The Old Whig has been at another angle as well...( "I said this in response to my brother's post"

I must add that not all ideas will succeed in reaching fulfillment, nor will the majority, having reached fulfillment, succeed in achieving their proclaimed goals. Their goals would be the long-term happiness of their adherents, in this life or the next, or (for atheistic ideologies) among their descendants (as long as they adhere to The Plan).

Our Founders never expected us to achieve a permanent state of Utopia or Nirvana. They only hoped to create an ideological framework within which we could find solutions to our problems.

Departures from that framework - communism, socialism, fascism, monarchy, oligopoly, theocracy and totalitarianism - have proven to be marked failures.

As has, I suppose, Atomistic Individualism, though, within the Framework of a Constitution which respects individual, natural rights, I doubt that it would.

Tribalism has yet to prove to be a failure within that framework, except in the cases where it oversteps its bounds (shown by a tribe, or clan, inflicting harm on another). The Nuclear Family certainly hasn't proven to be a failure...

Well, I need to cut this off. What, though, is the goal of political theory?


Dave Justus picks up on a Canadian theme,

It is quite possible that the value he is supposedly championing are laudable and that the various religious denominations would do well to adopt them. That is really beside the point however. One lesson that I believe can convincingly be drawn from history is that whenever a religious ideology is promoted by force the society it is foisted on and the ideology itself are both greatly damaged.

I don't think that Canada is anywhere near enacting anything like this (although with some of their speech codes they are not all far away from this as one would wish) but it is clear that there are people who desire this end, and that religious people who fear such a thing are not entirely paranoid.

I am not deeply religious, although I have a lot of respect for faith and people who hold it. Religious or not though, this sort of stifling of freedom in the name of tolerance has the potential to be truly dangerous.

If there is a common thread running in these various ideas, it seems to me to be one of dissatisfaction with the present state of affairs. There is nothing wrong, in fact in many ways it is a healthy sign. Certainly the mere fact that the current state of "our" democracy is the subject of debate shows that the various elements of "freedom" do exist and operate as they should.

There is a word of warning that must accompany all of these debates though. Very simply put, we all in our respective communities must ensure that as we do succeed in improving the political systems we form part of we must also be absolutely certain that the new is better than the old. As my grandmother might have said "Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater."

That thought leads to the diversity of reasons that accompany this random but hardly representative sample. At second glance there is a lot of conflict in the reasons for the individual dissatisfactions being expressed.

In TFS's case the dissatisfaction seems to centre upon a "Brave New World" where the traditional idea of marriage no longer exists. He refines this as an example of the conflict between societal tolerance and his perception of the degradation of the Christian religion.

Robert on the other hand makes a comparative statement between The Christian state and its freedoms and the political state where opposing factions buy their position so that they can impose their beliefs upon others. I like that point Robert, though the attempt to factor in the Islamic extremeists into the same idea takes a bit more explaining than you have given.

At the same time there is a common theme in both of the individual.

Dave Justus, on the other hand is sounding an alarm based upon changes proposed in Canada. Specifically he is blowing the same trumpet that I have taken up on occasion - that of the dangers of mixing religion into politics and most specifically the advent of the "Christian state or nation". In that respect he creates a contrast with TFS, while at the same time upholding the individual right.

Al, I haven't forgotten you, it is just that your closing question does really beg a reply. So, here is my attempt at an answer.

Can I begin with two statements - these are essentially the premises upon which I want to base my "answer" to Al's question; they are the parameters that I want to use to limit my own thoughts to specific issues rather than starting to ramble... I also want to acknowledge that it is so many years since I last read Heinline that I rather feel "left out of the joke" if you will. I will explain that little outburst by stating that frankly, the idea of "utopia" is both anathema and impossibility for me. What parts of that are not explained in the following paragraphs I will append at the end.

First, there is a fundamental conflict between "individual" and "society" that goes far deeper than the mere meaning of the words. This will lead back to RFS's statement about "Brave New World" (which I admit despite its most depressing outcome is one of my favourite books).

Second, there is a fundamental conflict between "religion" and "democracy". This is a much simpler concept that I want to take up, in that it follows directly from the points made by Dave J. As I may already have hinted, there is a strong correlation between Dave's thoughts and my own in this respect.

So, there are the "rules"


Individual vs Society

There is no need to define "individual" here. It has a fundamental meaning in English that needs no explanation. So, why have I substituted "society" in place of "state" or "politics"? The equate "society" and "state" for most of us is a given. There are instances where it is not; the "democracy seed" in Iraq for example ignores the fact that within that "state" there are effectively three "societies", each with its own goals. For this discussion, I am concentrating on what I know, the society in which I live and which differs little from the US or Australia or Britain.

The point that must be made, the point that is too oft ignored by people such as Robert is that "individuals" can not make for an efficient and effective society.

So, can humankind make an effective "society" where the individual can be given free rein? The reasons why I believe the "Utopian" solution is unworkable are far more pragmatic and also a matter of degree.

I think of the many utopian societies of which I have read and equally as important the atopias. The common themes, the bases for the utopia (or the reason against) generally comes from -

  1. Promoting the individual and ignoring the pitfalls.

  2. Creating the main story line around an elite

  3. Creating the homogenous society, with immutable ranking or castes

  4. Idealised caricatures of the society of the 1930's, or '40s, or 50's or 60's or whenever the author was writing.

Among the greatest ever of the utopians and antopians I would count the likes of H.G. Wells (First Men in the Moon, The Time Machine, Journey to the Centre of the Earth), Swift (Gulliver's Travels), perhaps Tolkien (for Middle Earth), Orwell (Animal Farm).

The Cult of the Individual

I knew, I just knew that I was going to trip over this one...

  1. Comrades! We must abolish the cult of the individual decisively, once and for all
    - Nikita Khrushchev

  2. The main plank in the National Socialist program is to abolish the liberalistic concept of the individual
    - Adolf Hitler

  3. At a time when our entire country is banding together and facing down individualism, the Patriots set a wonderful example, showing us all what is possible when we work together, believe in each other, and sacrifice for the greater good
    - Ted Kennedy, 2002

  4. There is the great, silent, continuous struggle: the struggle between the State and the Individual
    - Benito Mussolini

  5. We must stop thinking of the individual and start thinking about what is best for society
    - Hillary Clinton, 1993

  6. All our lives we fought against exalting the individual, against the elevation of the single person
    - Vladimir Lenin

Right, having shafted all of the possible objections and anti-arguments from the right, there is an aspect of the "individual over society" that I want you to consider before you start to object to my line of thinking.

First, there is absolutely no argument from me that the rights of the individual are paramount to the success of a free society. The question I want to put to you is this - "Just how far into the tails of a Bell Curve can a law go and still remain effective?" We see the consequences of this every day, and in many different forms; the abortion debate, the application of speeding laws, the right to carry arms, the right to teach evolution in schools, the right to teach divine creation in schools. In all of these instances there are implacable and irreconciliable extremes. Obviously (to me at least) no law can exist that will be workable and at the same time will satisfy the desires of both extremes. A law WILL BE EFFECTIVE when it reflects the desires and ethics of the majority of those subject to it.

The most important conclusion that I want to stress is that there will always be the extremes outside of that "frame" whose desires are irreconcileable. Think for a moment about the difficulty of reconciling "free abortionists" with "pro-lifers" to get a feel for what I mean. That means that within any "individualist utopia" there will be people who are dissatisfied with the structure of that society, and there will be conflict (at one level or another) between that group and the majority.

The Homogenous Society

So, the society of the individual will not work, at least will not be perfect? This is its antithesis. I slot it in here because TFS raised "Brave New World" which is probably the most brilliant and depressing word picture of this form of utopia.

It is not a utopia that I would wish. Nor, I suspect would any other promoter of the individual and individual rights.

What it is important to recognise, is that the foundation of the homogenous society is the extinction of the individual. I know that I could get right up the noses of the red-blooded capitalists reading this by suggesting that this failure alone could have been the reason for the collapse of Communism. (Sorry about the red herring there... please ignore. I might take that up at a later date.)

The Danger of the Individual

I have in mind here a thought (I think this is right) that the ideogram in Mandarin for "danger" is identical to that for "opportunity". That to me is the challenge of the idea of "individual over society". It is the catalyst of change. It must also be the principle of moderation.

It should also be apparent that the individuals with this "power" will almost invariably exist in the "outliers" of the Bell Curve. They will be the "outlaws", the nuisances, the provocateurs of the utopia. For the stability of the utopia they must not succeed, but their "genes" must be used to allow the society to evolve. There must be "anti-genes" that act like our bodies natural checks and balances preventing cancers and other "run-away" processes.

Religion vs Democracy

As I said earlier, this should not require great debate. I have already commended Dave Justus' remarks. I want to add these thoughts to his -

  1. Where is the US's greatest "perceived enemy" at present? In another religion. How is that religion being portrayed? As "anti-democratic"

  2. Would a Christian nation be any different to an Islamic Nation? Like DJ, I say a hearty "NO".

  3. One of the precepts to a "Christian nation" will be uniformity of belief. Where does that leave the "Cult of the Individual"? I submit, out in the wilderness.

Closings - personal views

One of the difficulties with debates on topics such as "Individual Society" is the variation in meaning and concept that accompanies it. As I said earlier, Heinline is carrying a considerable following at this moment as an ideal. I must go read and catch up. But what I have set against that is going to stay, probably for quite some while.

Again, I can not get around the difficulty of the irreconcileable individual. I raised this once before (not that long back) and was met with the contrary "If they do not agree they either change their minds or leave". I had tired of that debate so much that I left the opportunity to take that thought to its logical (and not extreme) homogenous society. That was a part of why I included those brief notes under that heading.

For an objective view of what seems to me to be a "truly American view" I comment Al's commentary. The Old Whig is no fool in my book and his "Our Founders never expected us to achieve a permanent state of Utopia or Nirvana." has that ring of objectivity that I like.

For myself, my country will never be uptopia or nirvana. To say that it is admits that it has reached its peak and can go no further. That, to me, is the ultimate killer of the flower of life.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Wally, you started something now...

Wally triggered this little story, in his “Space post, coast to coast “. He picks up on a letter which spoofs from the C.S. Lewis Perelandra trilogy.

I have in mind a 30 minute radio programme, I am fairly sure that “Spectrum” (Jack Perkins and his team) were responsible, that related the story of “a machine to interpret politicians’ speeches”. Oh but we have dire need of such a machine today.

It is a propos as the timing of its original broadcast was just prior to the 1975 (perhaps 72) elections. We are now in the “phoney war” stage of the next elections and rapidly approaching the point where some "realism" should be reinjected into the process.

The “Machine to Interpret Politicians’ Speeches” (known as MIPS) was designed and developed by a team of Radio NZ technicians of the Arcane Lab at Broadcasting House. It was first tested in a covert operation during the Prime Minister’s weekly press conference. It quickly became apparent that the Arcane Lab had succeeded far beyond their wildest imaginings. It was easily able to distinguish between “I am not going to speak while that man is present” “Tom Scott will leave the room NOW” and “At the end of the day, after consulting with Departmental officials, and in the final analysis the outcome must remain confidential at this time.” ”I haven’t the faintest idea what he is talking about.”

During the weeks following these initial tests, there were further informal experiments using recorded interviews with a wide range of politicians and other commentators with often surprising results.

News of the power of MIPS spread rapidly and Arcane Laboratory was approached by Head of Security Intelligence Service (NZ's CIA) requesting their help with the interpretation of a strange high frequency transmission that had been detected in Central Otago. At first, MIPS was unable to translate from this source. The breakthrough came when it picked up on three small passages – “big smoke” “godiwishihadacoldone”, “gettoutathat Duke”, and “giddawaaayback Jess”. As MIPS built its vocabulary on this new language it became apparent that the transmission was between a UFO and its mother-ship in high orbit.

The programme developed from there into a radio version (pre-dating it by some fifteen years) of “Third Rock from the Sun”. Among the gems it produced –

A definition of “elections” – the process by which the second class superior species selects the 100 most unpopular members of the first class superior species and then locks them into a beehive where they proceed to pass repressive laws and regulations on those that put them there.

A research team (of one) trying to figure out the meaning of “sex” starting with “I can show you a good time” and ending with the research team refusing to leave Manners St after having met Carmen ( a transvestite, night club owner, and prostitute of considerable repute).

Ahhh, nostalgia….

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Postscript to the Auckland vandalism...

An 18 y-o idiot will be appearing in Court Monday.

Police have asked the Solicitor General (equivalent to A-G) for permission to lay "hate crime" charges.

I hope that they do. A maximum term of 20 years (probable actually only 3 years) will serve better than the usual fines and PD that apply for vandalism and graffitti charges.

No doubt his sympathies would lie with the likes of HalfSigma...

Friday, July 15, 2005

A contrast in culture and politic...

A hat tip to James Wolcott for the link to The Huffington Post

This is something that I have been trying to say, but have not found the words for...

Tom Watson at Huffington Post -

On the morning of September 13th, 2001, the officer in charge of the Coldstream Guards Band and 1st Battalion Scots Guards received a call from Buckingham Palace. Banish tradition. The music accompanying that day's tourist-swathed ceremomy at the changing would be different. That day, the band played The Star-Spangled Banner. The Brits were with us.

Four years later, still firmly at the side of the United States in general, and this administration specifically, the British felt the domestic blow of what most Americans and Britons agree is a common enemy - even if we disagree on the prosecution of the struggle against that enemy.

Our President, George W. Bush, was actually in the United Kingdom when terror struck London. He was in Scotland, a two-hour flight from Heathrow. Understandably, he and the other leaders completed the G8 summit, unbowed by the carnage in the London transit system.

And then our President came home.

And in doing so, he knowingly cast a gob of bitter spittle in the face of our constant ally, and disgraced the United States of America.

Why didn't President Bush visit London? Why didn't he walk the streets, take a few questions from the press, show the power of his office to Londoners? Stand at the side of Tony Blair and Ken Livingstone? Why hasn't anyone asked? Why did he fly all the way to Washington, signing the condolence book at the British Embassy - instead of walking a moment or two in Londoners' shoes.

When the band played our national anthem at Buckingham Palace, it showed the power of symbols, and the moral reach of constitutional power. It also caused lumps in the throats of any American who heard the stirrings of the song: written, as it was, to the sound of a British bombardment almost two hundred years ago. The song is a call to the colors, a call to honor.

The President, ducking into the comfort of Air Force One, didn't answer that call.

And James' conclusion -

For months, we've been hearing and reading that Brits no longer discriminate between average Americans and the policies of our government--that the reelection of Bush has made them hold us in something of the same contempt they hold him. Well, they have good reason, and we keep furnishing them with better reasons all the time.

I want to take that one step further. I would not, as James has done, limit the ROW's contempt of the President and Americans as a people solely on the head of the President. Yes, as head of that nation he should take note of the culture and attitude of the countries he visits in determining his responses and actions. I agree with James, but would put it slightly differently.

Once again, the American nation and not just its President has confirmed the caricature penned originally by Graham Greene in "The Ugly American".

To illustrate this take a blog such as this - Half Sigma

When Muslims become more religious, they blow stuff up and kill people. This is why it’s dangerous to have many Muslims living in the country, some of them will become religious like these guys in Britain.

In another post, Half Sigma leads to this op-ed by Thomas L.

But maybe the most important aspect of the London bombings is this: When jihadist-style bombings happen in Riyadh, that is a Muslim-Muslim problem. That is a police problem for Saudi Arabia. But when Al-Qaeda-like bombings come to the London Underground, that becomes a civilizational problem. Every Muslim living in a Western society suddenly becomes a suspect, becomes a potential walking bomb. And when that happens, it means Western countries are going to be tempted to crack down even harder on their own Muslim populations.

That, too, is deeply troubling. The more Western societies - particularly the big European societies, which have much larger Muslim populations than America - look on their own Muslims with suspicion, the more internal tensions this creates, and the more alienated their already alienated Muslim youth become. This is exactly what Osama bin Laden dreamed of with 9/11: to create a great gulf between the Muslim world and the globalizing West.

Not as extreme perhaps, and the selective quotation is there with intent. Selective because Friedman later sounds a warning of this path in western civilisations, an aspect that is ignored in HalfSigma's post..

There is a consistent path through these, and the many other commentaries and opinion that emanates from the US. Rather than state it, an illustration in the form of a quote - the Lord Mayor of London after the two minutes silence today as quoted by the Beeb...

"London Mayor Ken Livingstone was with faith leaders and members of the city's Olympic bid team at Trafalgar Square.

Mr Livingstone told the BBC after the silence: "This city has survived the past week because we didn't turn on each other, which is what the bombers wanted. We supported each other."

There is a quote that opened Half Sigma's piece, taken from this article/op-ed. What is omitted (I will keep suspicions to myself) is the remainder of the article including...

Local people note, for instance that when race riots erupted in 2001 in nearby Bradford, Leeds remained relatively quiet. Even in the more downtrodden neighborhoods where the suspected bombers lived, residents proudly stressed the harmony between various faiths and races.

"It's quiet here," said David Talbot, a convert to Islam and a longtime resident. "We don't have the demonstrations and troubles that other places do. The coexistence with the wider non-Muslim community is usually good in Leeds."

Zahir Birawi, chairman of the Leeds Grand Mosque, said: "We could have never imagined that there are people here who could have been involved in something like this. There is clearly a group willing to ruin the reputation of the community here."

Yet despite the shock, some people said there may be a silver lining of sorts.

"Both the Muslim and non-Muslim community here will have to deal with issues that we have been sweeping under the carpet," Mr. Talbot said. "Our crime rate amongst young people is disproportionate, and there's a higher percentage of kids going into prison for drugs. As a community, we're not bringing this up. Religion has nothing to do with it, so the question is, what does?"

There, I hope, is the contrast.

Between people lashing out in blind rage and hatred on the one hand, and trying to understand motives and causes on the other.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Auckland's reaction to the bombings in London...

I posted back in July last year on the desecration of a Jewish cemetery in Wellington. It was slanted from the point of view of comments from all over to a report in a Jewish newspaper.

We now have, following on from the London bombings… Granny Herald on Friday and Saturday

But, when the “world” of David Farrar got to debate the Catch 22 question put to Mr Chaudhary this is what was one of the respondents posted…. (sorry but Mr Farrar does not seem to let me direct link so scroll down to about 6 July. Look for the “suspended baby” critique and go down a bit from there). To be very clear, I do not believe that the quotes are from Mr Farrar.

Choudhary and his kind have no place being in NZ parliament .
It is well known Islams agenda is to conquer the infidels, and sharia law to westerners is repulsive.
It is bad enough NZ taxpayers are funding Islamic muslim shcools,,, mark my words there will be trouble from these people in the near future effecting us all.
Posted by Christian at July 6, 2005 05:13 PM

And –

This is from the unholy quran.
I echo Kimbles sentiments, he/she is spot on and right.
I reiterate, keep a close eye on Islam in the west, if not for your own sake for the sake of your children.
Posted by Christian at July 7, 2005 08:43 PM

And –

"To read the kind of religio/racial filth that "Christian" has been spouting does get the adrenalin going." That was him quoting from me...
Not 1/2 as much as liberal pratts like yourself get my adrenalin running,MR DOGOODER!
You are a blind fool if you cant see what the so called (islamic terrorists) are doing in this world, and it all comes from the filthy Quran,,read it!!
Posted by Christian at July 8, 2005 12:42 PM

And yet again…

Kiwi Guy,, our god is not allah nor do we ever want to follow the teachings of your damned quran,
There is only one god JEHOVAH,, and Jesus his messenger , and thats what 99% of people in NZ and the west have been brought up on,, and the Binle is peace and Love,,,the Quran has no mention of Love anly Smiting.
I say to you quran believing muslims in NZ,, get out if you cant fit in to our CHRISTIAN based society, cause you will NEVER change it ,not here not USA not Bitain,,,so if ya dont like it GET OUT and go back to the rathole of your ancestors,
Posted by Christian at July 9, 2005 04:01 PM

The words of only one, I know. But, when the Jewish cemetery was vandalised there were only three criminals involved. What does worry me is that the opinions expressed are not seen infrequently. They seem to emanate from a class of people who combine fundamental Christian beliefs with strong right wing political views.

The really BIG question for me is this –

Where, Oh where, is the reaction of outrage and dismay from the Christian churches?

From the Herald article above…

New Zealand Jewish Council president Stephen Goodman joined the chorus in deploring the "shameful" attacks.

Doing the rounds on the Churches' own sites don't help either...
Presbyterian This was obviously written prior to the bombing and vandalism, and offers some hope.

I also looked for “Congregational” and even Destiny. Both had nothing.

So, one very big tick for the Jewish Council, and so far a great big FAIL for the major denominations...

Sunday, July 10, 2005

The essential probligo... FWIW!

Dave Farrar had this link up on his site, which led eventuially to this. Well never one to shirk a challenge, no matter how pseudo-scientific it might be, here is a "psychological picture" of the probligo -


    Domain/Facet........... Score
    ..Activity Level...........40

Your score on Extraversion is average, indicating you are neither a subdued loner nor a jovial chatterbox. You enjoy time with others but also time alone.

Extraversion Facets

    · Friendliness. Friendly people genuinely like other people and openly demonstrate positive feelings toward others. They make friends quickly and it is easy for them to form close, intimate relationships. Low scorers on Friendliness are not necessarily cold and hostile, but they do not reach out to others and are perceived as distant and reserved. Your level of friendliness is high.
    · Gregariousness. Gregarious people find the company of others pleasantly stimulating and rewarding. They enjoy the excitement of crowds. Low scorers tend to feel overwhelmed by, and therefore actively avoid, large crowds. They do not necessarily dislike being with people sometimes, but their need for privacy and time to themselves is much greater than for individuals who score high on this scale. Your level of gregariousness is average.
    · Assertiveness. High scorers Assertiveness like to speak out, take charge, and direct the activities of others. They tend to be leaders in groups. Low scorers tend not to talk much and let others control the activities of groups. Your level of assertiveness is average.
    · Activity Level. Active individuals lead fast-paced, busy lives. They move about quickly, energetically, and vigorously, and they are involved in many activities. People who score low on this scale follow a slower and more leisurely, relaxed pace. Your activity level is average.
    · Excitement-Seeking. High scorers on this scale are easily bored without high levels of stimulation. They love bright lights and hustle and bustle. They are likely to take risks and seek thrills. Low scorers are overwhelmed by noise and commotion and are adverse to thrill-seeking. Your level of excitement-seeking is high.
    · Cheerfulness. This scale measures positive mood and feelings, not negative emotions (which are a part of the Neuroticism domain). Persons who score high on this scale typically experience a range of positive feelings, including happiness, enthusiasm, optimism, and joy. Low scorers are not as prone to such energetic, high spirits. Your level of positive emotions is average.


    Domain/Facet........... Score

Your high level of Agreeableness indicates a strong interest in others' needs and well-being. You are pleasant, sympathetic, and cooperative.

Agreeableness Facets

    · Trust. A person with high trust assumes that most people are fair, honest, and have good intentions. Persons low in trust see others as selfish, devious, and potentially dangerous. Your level of trust is average.
    · Morality. High scorers on this scale see no need for pretense or manipulation when dealing with others and are therefore candid, frank, and sincere. Low scorers believe that a certain amount of deception in social relationships is necessary. People find it relatively easy to relate to the straightforward high-scorers on this scale. They generally find it more difficult to relate to the unstraightforward low-scorers on this scale. It should be made clear that low scorers are not unprincipled or immoral; they are simply more guarded and less willing to openly reveal the whole truth. Your level of morality is average.
    · Altruism. Altruistic people find helping other people genuinely rewarding. Consequently, they are generally willing to assist those who are in need. Altruistic people find that doing things for others is a form of self-fulfillment rather than self-sacrifice. Low scorers on this scale do not particularly like helping those in need. Requests for help feel like an imposition rather than an opportunity for self-fulfillment. Your level of altruism is high.
    · Cooperation. Individuals who score high on this scale dislike confrontations. They are perfectly willing to compromise or to deny their own needs in order to get along with others. Those who score low on this scale are more likely to intimidate others to get their way. Your level of compliance is average.
    · Modesty. High scorers on this scale do not like to claim that they are better than other people. In some cases this attitude may derive from low self-confidence or self-esteem. Nonetheless, some people with high self-esteem find immodesty unseemly. Those who are willing to describe themselves as superior tend to be seen as disagreeably arrogant by other people. Your level of modesty is high.
    · Sympathy. People who score high on this scale are tenderhearted and compassionate. They feel the pain of others vicariously and are easily moved to pity. Low scorers are not affected strongly by human suffering. They pride themselves on making objective judgments based on reason. They are more concerned with truth and impartial justice than with mercy. Your level of tender-mindedness is average.


    Domain/Facet........... Score

Your score on Conscientiousness is average. This means you are reasonably reliable, organized, and self-controlled.

Conscientiousness Facets

    · Self-Efficacy. Self-Efficacy describes confidence in one's ability to accomplish things. High scorers believe they have the intelligence (common sense), drive, and self-control necessary for achieving success. Low scorers do not feel effective, and may have a sense that they are not in control of their lives. Your level of self-efficacy is low.
    · Orderliness. Persons with high scores on orderliness are well-organized. They like to live according to routines and schedules. They keep lists and make plans. Low scorers tend to be disorganized and scattered. Your level of orderliness is average.
    · Dutifulness. This scale reflects the strength of a person's sense of duty and obligation. Those who score high on this scale have a strong sense of moral obligation. Low scorers find contracts, rules, and regulations overly confining. They are likely to be seen as unreliable or even irresponsible. Your level of dutifulness is average.
    · Achievement-Striving. Individuals who score high on this scale strive hard to achieve excellence. Their drive to be recognized as successful keeps them on track toward their lofty goals. They often have a strong sense of direction in life, but extremely high scores may be too single-minded and obsessed with their work. Low scorers are content to get by with a minimal amount of work, and might be seen by others as lazy. Your level of achievement striving is average.
    · Self-Discipline. Self-discipline-what many people call will-power-refers to the ability to persist at difficult or unpleasant tasks until they are completed. People who possess high self-discipline are able to overcome reluctance to begin tasks and stay on track despite distractions. Those with low self-discipline procrastinate and show poor follow-through, often failing to complete tasks-even tasks they want very much to complete. Your level of self-discipline is average.
    · Cautiousness. Cautiousness describes the disposition to think through possibilities before acting. High scorers on the Cautiousness scale take their time when making decisions. Low scorers often say or do first thing that comes to mind without deliberating alternatives and the probable consequences of those alternatives. Your level of cautiousness is average.


    Domain/Facet........... Score

Your score on Neuroticism is low, indicating that you are exceptionally calm, composed and unflappable. You do not react with intense emotions, even to situations that most people would describe as stressful.

Neuroticism Facets

    · Anxiety. The "fight-or-flight" system of the brain of anxious individuals is too easily and too often engaged. Therefore, people who are high in anxiety often feel like something dangerous is about to happen. They may be afraid of specific situations or be just generally fearful. They feel tense, jittery, and nervous. Persons low in Anxiety are generally calm and fearless. Your level of anxiety is low.
    · Anger. Persons who score high in Anger feel enraged when things do not go their way. They are sensitive about being treated fairly and feel resentful and bitter when they feel they are being cheated. This scale measures the tendency to feel angry; whether or not the person expresses annoyance and hostility depends on the individual's level on Agreeableness. Low scorers do not get angry often or easily. Your level of anger is low.
    · Depression. This scale measures the tendency to feel sad, dejected, and discouraged. High scorers lack energy and have difficult initiating activities. Low scorers tend to be free from these depressive feelings. Your level of depression is average.
    · Self-Consciousness. Self-conscious individuals are sensitive about what others think of them. Their concern about rejection and ridicule cause them to feel shy and uncomfortable abound others. They are easily embarrassed and often feel ashamed. Their fears that others will criticize or make fun of them are exaggerated and unrealistic, but their awkwardness and discomfort may make these fears a self-fulfilling prophecy. Low scorers, in contrast, do not suffer from the mistaken impression that everyone is watching and judging them. They do not feel nervous in social situations. Your level or self-consciousness is low.
    · Immoderation. Immoderate individuals feel strong cravings and urges that they have have difficulty resisting. They tend to be oriented toward short-term pleasures and rewards rather than long- term consequences. Low scorers do not experience strong, irresistible cravings and consequently do not find themselves tempted to overindulge. Your level of immoderation is average.
    · Vulnerability. High scorers on Vulnerability experience panic, confusion, and helplessness when under pressure or stress. Low scorers feel more poised, confident, and clear-thinking when stressed. Your level of vulnerability is average.

Openness to Experience

    Domain/Facet........... Score
    ..Artistic Interests.......43

Your score on Openness to Experience is average, indicating you enjoy tradition but are willing to try new things. Your thinking is neither simple nor complex. To others you appear to be a well-educated person but not an intellectual.
Openness Facets

    · Imagination. To imaginative individuals, the real world is often too plain and ordinary. High scorers on this scale use fantasy as a way of creating a richer, more interesting world. Low scorers are on this scale are more oriented to facts than fantasy. Your level of imagination is average.
    . Artistic Interests. High scorers on this scale love beauty, both in art and in nature. They become easily involved and absorbed in artistic and natural events. They are not necessarily artistically trained nor talented, although many will be. The defining features of this scale are interest in, and appreciation of natural and artificial beauty. Low scorers lack aesthetic sensitivity and interest in the arts. Your level of artistic interests is average.
    · Emotionality. Persons high on Emotionality have good access to and awareness of their own feelings. Low scorers are less aware of their feelings and tend not to express their emotions openly. Your level of emotionality is low.
    · Adventurousness. High scorers on adventurousness are eager to try new activities, travel to foreign lands, and experience different things. They find familiarity and routine boring, and will take a new route home just because it is different. Low scorers tend to feel uncomfortable with change and prefer familiar routines. Your level of adventurousness is high.
    · Intellect. Intellect and artistic interests are the two most important, central aspects of openness to experience. High scorers on Intellect love to play with ideas. They are open-minded to new and unusual ideas, and like to debate intellectual issues. They enjoy riddles, puzzles, and brain teasers. Low scorers on Intellect prefer dealing with either people or things rather than ideas. They regard intellectual exercises as a waste of time. Intellect should not be equated with intelligence. Intellect is an intellectual style, not an intellectual ability, although high scorers on Intellect score slightly higher than low-Intellect individuals on standardized intelligence tests. Your level of intellect is high.
    · Liberalism. Psychological liberalism refers to a readiness to challenge authority, convention, and traditional values. In its most extreme form, psychological liberalism can even represent outright hostility toward rules, sympathy for law-breakers, and love of ambiguity, chaos, and disorder. Psychological conservatives prefer the security and stability brought by conformity to tradition. Psychological liberalism and conservatism are not identical to political affiliation, but certainly incline individuals toward certain political parties. Your level of liberalism is high.

And from the same set of links comes a "political profile as well...

Your political compass
Economic Left/Right: -2.13
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -2.10

Friday, July 08, 2005


There is a sadness in my heart that I can not express.

There is nothing in this world that can justify the use of such weapons to kill and maim the innocent or to create terror.

There is no injustice that warrants this manner of response.

There is no justification.

There is no right.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Mr Swindells, I for one beg to differ...

Well, it IS the news of the week. Everyone else has had a good crack at it. Even this week’s Listener in another of its moments of prescience, and probably penned three weeks ago, has the issue as its cover story.

It is also, after the (much debated) “...gone by lunchtime...” remark attributed to Brash Donnie going to be one of the “election issues”. To be fair, Brash Donnie is saying that “National’s policy is unchanged”. Apparently that means that they will not change the law without an electoral mandate, either by way of referendum, or by electing the National party with removal of all or part of the anti-nuclear legislation as its policy. That last little piece really begs the question though, doesn’t it? Brash is firm, the anti-nuclear legislation is not policy.


Apart from the Listener though, the issue would have muttered on were it not for the retiring U.S. Ambassador Mr Charles Swindell. Within hours of his Independence Day speech, the news, bloggers, political commentators, party supporters and all from Auntie Helen to Mr Chaudhry were having their say. Admittedly, some stupid little reporter got confused and (instead of asking Mr Chaudhry about the anti-nuclear legislation ) pursued some ridiculous line about stoning and the Qu’ran. Why did she not ask Graham Caple about whether he supported crucifixion as a punishment. Well it is in the Bible after all as punishment for those who think themselves above the law. Not, I rush to add, that I think Mr Swindells considers himself above the law, not at all. Mr Caple might but that is also another story.

Coverage of Swindells’ speech is now universal, so I am not going to republish here. There are any number of sources that will have it – try and read their Editorial while you are there. Well put.

But there is a discordance here; a wrong note in the music of the spheres.

As I said, the speech was Mr Swindells’ farewell, and made specifically for Independence Day. Does he think that our Nuclear Free legislation in some way makes us LESS independent? Well I concede that there are political barriers that have been the consequence of the legislation. That might be limiting to some freedoms. Like sending nuclear powered ships to NZ for a bit of RnR for example. Or establishing a free trade agreement.

There is also another fact that I believe is fundamental to the genesis of the anti-nuclear legislation and by complete coincidence this past weekend was the anniversary of that event as well. One of the casualties of NZ's law was the ANZUS pact, one of those very popular mutual defence agreements from the Cold War. It, like so many others, stated that an attack on any of the parties would consititute an attack on all three parties.

In July 1985, NZ experienced its first, and so far only, terrorist attack. There was only one life lost, a matter of luck rather than incompetence on the part of the terrorists. The target was an elderly trawler named "Rainbow Warrior" owned by the Greenpeace Foundation. The terrorists were active servicemen (and women) of the French secret service.

I can not say that we won that little battle. We capitulated after France rallied trade sanctions within the EU against all product from this country.

But, what about ANZUS? If ever an American wants to know why I and so many other NZers are so sceptical about the reality of American politics and foreign policy look no further. The thunderous silence from both Australia and the US during the 18 months after July 1985, the endless offers of support and assistance did really make us in NZ feel part of the alliance.

To close that, remember that it was the French nuclear testing that was one of the critical seeds of this country's stand. It was not the attitude of our supposed friends.

But truly, all of this is ignoring the very real issue between this nation of mine and the United States is only evidenced by the nuclear free legislation, the ban on nuclear powered ships.

Mr Swindells himself, in October last year (the same time as the supposed Donnie quote) will recall telling the NZ Government that the United States would not “just get over it”.

It is not an attitude that is limited to the present administration. Over the past twenty years there have been regular reminders by envoys from Congress and the President that NZ’s anti-nuclear legislation “presents real barriers to relationships between our two nations.

It is at this point that I can appreciate the sentiments of those many Americans who support the call for “less government” in their lives. Most of those people are loyal and patriotic Americans. Do they really believe though that their nation has the right to dictate the legislation and law in another country? Well, apparently they do, as my complaint on behalf of lil ol’ NZ is a bagatelle by comparison with others. That, at the same time, does not make the interference either welcome or right.

There is the discord. On the day when Americans celebrate their independence from an oppressive (and mad) King George, there are repeated and official calls for this country to abrogate its right to independence for the convenience of another nation. Except that on this occasion these scarce concealed demands are made with the approval and agreement of President George – not King George.

Mr Swindells, I truly hope that you enjoyed celebrating your Independence Day in our fair country. I trust too that when you return to your own country to retire that you will take back to your President and Congress a very simple message - that the people of New Zealand are free, that they are a fiercely proud nation if small by most measures, and that friendship is to be earned and not dictated.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Another view of "pre-emptive" and terrorism...

Hat tip to Dave Justus, and his link to Vodkapundit for this one...

Dave’s first reaction was more to the last part of Vodkapundit’s post on the relationship between public opinion and the media. Tired horse that one... Vodkapundit goes no further than just a mention.

What led VP’s post, and far more worthy of comment, is a paper on the development of the Bush administration’s interpretation of the extent of “pre-emption war” in the context of Iraq2. My read and response follows. The comments that follow VP’s post, and there are some 35 of them, are a fascinating snapshot of American public reaction. I think that all bar two of the posts debate either the number of civilian casualties in Iraq or why the “Russian empire” collapsed. Sigh.

My comments in italics, my emphasis in bold.

Preemption in the Present

A national consensus that rejected preventive war in the 1950s developed, as Brodie noted, with little debate. In a striking reversal, in 2002 the United States accepted, again with little deliberation, a national strategy of preemption (preventive war in 1950s terminology) as defined in the Bush Doctrine. Since the issuance of the 2002 National Security Strategy, the war in Iraq and the politics of a presidential election have absorbed Americans’ attention, forestalling a debate on the propriety and likely effectiveness of the nation’s first post-9/11 strategic doctrine.

Defense strategists and theorists, however, have begun the process of evaluating the merits and deficiencies of preemption for fighting a war against terrorists. Questions of terminology, international law, counterproliferation, multilateralism, military effectiveness, and ethical skepticism frame the developing dialogue.

The distinction made in the 1950s between preemption and preventive war has been lost in today’s debate, and the incorrect use of the term preemption when preventive war would be more accurate has significant consequences. Francois Heisbourg, chairman of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, points out that current international law makes the distinction, and a lack of precision can create confusion between friend and foe alike. Potential allies may perceive such imprecision as an American inability to recognize the subtleties and nuances of diplomacy, resulting in decreased international confidence and hindering the prospect of a united front against terrorism. Indiscriminately swapping terms can also mislead potential enemies, convincing them to accelerate development of deterrent capabilities, namely weapons of mass destruction (WMD), to counter a perceived threat from the United States when none may in fact exist. Heisbourg concludes that preventive war is a potentially sustainable doctrine if the United States works closely with allies to clarify and precisely define the specific guidelines of preventive action, especially what constitutes an “imminent” threat.

The issue of imminence is also central to the question of preemption’s (or, really, prevention’s) legality. In respect to international law, preemption in the sense of preventive war may well be legal, according to law professor Anthony Clark Arend. By tradition, international law recognizes the right of a nation to act preemptively in self-defense provided that it (1) demonstrates necessity, that is, shows that another nation poses an imminent threat, and (2) that the action taken is in proportion to the threat, avoiding excessive force. Today’s preemption, as outlined by the Bush Doctrine, argues that the post-9/11 world requires a reassessment of “imminent,” that the proliferation of WMD and their potential nexus with terrorists has made obsolete the customary understanding of international law’s necessity requirement, especially of what constitutes an imminent threat. To date, the Bush Administration has offered only an implicit reinterpretation of “imminent,” while international law has shown no sign of change. Should international law come to accept the Bush Doctrine’s implied definition of imminent, “preemption may, in fact,” Arend concludes, “be lawful—even if politically unwise.”

How might a reconfigured meaning of imminent and preemption fit into international law? Neither international law nor the UN Charter addresses the current strategic environment where terrorists rather than nation-states threaten the lives of thousands of civilians, but strategist Terence Taylor proposes a set of three criteria to redefine what constitutes an imminent threat in the post-9/11 world. First, the gravity of the threat must be significant, such as that posed by WMD. Second, the method of delivery must be considered—not in relation to technology but in respect to the possibility of a specific warning. Terrorism’s reliance on secrecy and surprise generally denies any forewarning of an attack; thus, Taylor writes, “It can be argued that even a general threat could qualify as imminent in international law.” The final criterion is a declared intent by the potential attackers, such as al Qaeda’s pronouncements to make further and more devastating attacks against the United States. A threat that fits these criteria, Taylor suggests, “creates a pervasive sort of imminent threat that could demand anticipatory military action . . . at a point in time when the opportunity arises to eliminate the threat.” The validity of this standard in respect to international law is unclear, and will remain so until both American policymakers and their foreign counterparts establish clear and accepted definitions for terms like “imminent.” Resolution of this question “is as important to counter unjustified recourse to anticipatory military action as it is to provide protection to civilian populations against catastrophic attacks.” Being obsolete is a definitive failing of legislative and diplomatic processes. Quite apart from the anticipation of diplomatic semantics, Taylor particularly, and Carlisle miss the point here. Surely the critical thing in defending against terrorism and the prospective use of WMD is “Who do we attack?”

Leaving behind the definitions and semantics of international law raises the practical issue of applying a strategy of prevention in a world of WMD, terrorists, and the possible mixing of the two. Professor Jason Ellis, offering one perspective, maintains that preventive action should be part of a broader strategy of counterproliferation. Past efforts at nonproliferation of WMD, including ballistic missiles, he argues, have failed, and the Bush Administration has adopted a proactive response to the “proliferation-terrorism nexus.” By acting “offensively today to preclude the development and delivery of graver threats down the line,” the Administration has the best chance of stopping or mitigating the effects of the WMD proliferation that has already occurred. The challenge will be “translating this strategic guidance into credible operational capabilities and plans.” Taylor ( I presume) takes the line of “What the Bush administration has done is the only solution. I beg to differ.

Strategic theorists Lee Feinstein and Anne-Marie Slaughter agree that the time has passed for emphasizing nonproliferation, indeed arguing that the President’s strategy of preemption “does not go far enough.” Based on the UN’s “Responsibility to Protect” principle that defines a world responsibility to protect people’s lives and human rights through direct intervention if necessary, the authors propose a parallel “collective ‘duty to prevent’” rogue nations from obtaining or using WMD. “Old age thinking”. The threat is no longer from nation-states. That is the defect in current international law, and to a great extent in the US’s response to 9/11. In the post-9/11 environment, nations must act proactively to confront the threat of WMD; however, Feinstein and Slaughter maintain that the majority of effort must come through collective nonmilitary actions such as economic and diplomatic initiatives, sanctions, and embargoes. When these measures are fully exhausted, military alternatives undertaken by “unilateral action or coalitions of the willing should be considered.” Similar to Ellis, they point out that the question of who decides when the time has come to exercise the military option remains unanswered. Again, I see this as retrospective justification of the Bush approach. But I concede it also allows that mistakes were made. F & S at least are giving the nod in the direction of non-military solutions.

Offering a differing view, strategist Gu Guoliang argues that in practice, a strategy of prevention “won’t work.” To be successful, a strategy must be based on reliable intelligence that identifies the enemy’s specific intentions, capabilities, and location, and have legal standing and moral authority in the world community. Preventive warfare, he argues, fulfills none of these requirements and therefore will prove ineffective in stopping the use of WMD.
Citing former Secretary of Defense William Cohen’s warning that “American military superiority actually increases the threat of nuclear, biological, and chemical attack against us by creating incentives for adversaries to challenge us asymmetrically,” Guoliang writes that preemption (prevention), can do nothing to prevent attacks by terrorists using trucks, ships, or jumbo jets. Moreover, preventive action by the United States both sets a precedent for other states to claim the same right of prevention and contributes to America’s unilateralist image. International cooperation, he suggests, is the key to international security. Multinational efforts to continue and strengthen nonproliferation programs will lessen the dangers posed by nation-states, while widespread cooperation among members of the world community can help reduce political, financial, and moral support for non-state threats.

Lawrence Freedman, who for decades has studied and commented on international strategy, reaches a similar conclusion. According to Freedman, deterrence is an outdated strategy of the Cold War, and a strategy of prevention will prove ineffective against the asymmetrical threat of terrorism; in short, “neither can form the basis of a new strategy.” The success of deterrence during the Cold War emanated from the balanced terror of Mutually Assured Destruction. Recognizing that each side marshaled sufficient firepower to annihilate the other dissuaded both from risking conflict, creating a stable if tense environment. Such a dynamic among forces today is unlikely, given the extremism and tactics of terrorists; there is little that can deter a suicide bomber. Nor does preemption present an effective defense framework, and here Freedman also distinguishes between preemption and prevention. Once more the question arises concerning the definition of imminent threat. Echoing others, Freedman maintains that in addition to concerns about legality, the practical implementation of anticipatory action is problematic. Identifying an imminent threat from a state is difficult; recognizing a similar threat from non-state groups like terrorists is essentially impossible. In very practical terms, preemption will not stop attacks like those of 11 September. Prevention, however, presents a possible alternative. Acknowledging that at times an imminent threat will likely require a preemptive military strike, Freedman argues that nonmilitary preventive actions, such as better intelligence, diplomatic initiatives, economic assistance, and improved technologies, can provide “sound guidance for dealing with the security problems within and arising from weak states.” In other words, address the sources and motivations of terrorists, rather than the consequences of their actions. But unlike a quick military fix, this approach requires a willingness “to engage difficult problems over an extended period of time.”

One final viewpoint to consider is that offered by Colonel Franklin Wester, an Army Reserve chaplain. Using Just War tradition to evaluate the ethical legitimacy of the Bush Doctrine as applied in the Iraq War, Wester argues that “the case of Iraq fails crucial ethical tests.” The United States at best only marginally met the standard for legitimate authority to initiate an invasion, there existed no imminent threat to the United States or its allies, and the Administration chose war not as a last resort but out of frustration over Saddam’s intransigence. In addition to arguing that the Bush Doctrine’s application in Iraq did not meet Just War’s ethical standards, Wester goes on to suggest, more significantly, that the National Security Strategy’s emphasis on preemption may signal an ethical paradigm shift that redefines “imminent threat” as “a clear danger [that] is not necessarily a present danger.” That, I suggest, is the greatest danger of all to the future of global peace and cooperation. It becomes not a matter of fact or proof but of belief.

Preemption’s Future?
Rather than an emerging consensus, these arguments make evident that the path forward in strategic planning is not clearly marked. Indeed, preemption’s implementation since its adoption as the foundation of the National Security Strategy has raised more questions and concerns than answers and solutions. The Bush Administration and its national security staff must evaluate whether preemption in its present form is the most appropriate and effective defense policy for a war against terrorism.

Will preemption provide an overarching framework for fighting a decades-long conflict as containment did during the Cold War? If not, a new strategic doctrine, perhaps one that emphasizes nonmilitary and special forces operations, must be crafted to counter successfully the radical extremist threat. On the other hand, maintaining preemption raises its own challenges. Diplomatic initiatives will need to address the international community’s perception that the United States has adopted unilateralism in practice if not in policy. This certainly is the perception that I have. It is a perception that is shared by the current NZ government. More specifically, the status of preemption in international law must be clarified, as well as the closely related issue of defining “imminent.” The United States needs to develop an accepted definition of what constitutes an imminent threat in the post-9/11 world, and this determination should be done in consultation with the nation’s allies.No, I disagree. It must be a common and global recognition. In regard to the practical application of preemption, military planners and strategists will need to generate tactical doctrines that can be applied both to nation-states who present traditional conventional and nuclear threats, and to non-state actors like al Qaeda who rarely present an identifiable target and who by the nature of their methods provide no prior warning. I differ here as well. It is my belief that by far the greatest threat to the US in particular, to its close allies more generally, and to a lesser extent globally will come from “formal groups of individuals”. How many people have forgotten that 9/11 was not the first terrorist action of its kind - Bader Meinhoff, the attack on the Israeli Olympic team at Berlin, the Achille Lauro, there are really so many since WW2. The only difference, the one thing that brought terrorism as a problem to international notice, was that the 9/11 attack was on New York. That is all. The lion was bearded in its own den. The President’s decision to execute any preemptive or preventive military operation will be based on his national security team’s recommendations and the intelligence assessments upon which they rely. As recent events demonstrate, reform is needed in both intelligence gathering and analysis.

In its position as the only superpower, the United States must lead the free world by developing a strategy—preemption or its successor—that, like containment, will gather the international support necessary to successfully fight a war against an amorphous and insidious enemy like al Qaeda. An understanding of strategic evolution since 6 August 1945 demonstrates the great challenges of crafting a successful defense policy, challenges that became even more complex after 11 September 2001. Preemption, the first attempt to define a security policy for this new strategic paradigm, will certainly undergo revision or replacement, not unlike the iterations of containment during the Cold War. This process, however, must begin with an evaluation of and debate over the policy itself. Defense strategists must learn from the history of preemption and prevention, and pursue a thoughtful reconsideration of America’s strategic doctrine.

America will likely be unsuccessful in the war against terrorists through military superiority alone. A doctrine of preemption without a substantial nonmilitary component may well place the United States in a strategic box similar to that of Dulles’s massive retaliation: undertake military operations on the scale of a national invasion or do nothing at all. In practice as much as in policy, America’s defense doctrine must include, as the National Security Strategy outlines, more sophisticated and nuanced diplomatic initiatives and humanitarian programs, efforts designed, in former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s words, “to reduce the underlying sources of terrorist motivation and recruitment.” As the Army Chief of Staff, General Peter Schoomaker, recently observed, “This war that we’re in is not going to be won militarily. . . . [It] really is a clash of ideas.” The second Bush Administration should work aggressively and sincerely to win not only military engagements but that clash of ideas and values, to win the support of world leaders and the peoples they govern, and to win back the hearts and minds of those who on 11 September 2001 stood shoulder to shoulder with America.

I will start by saying right out that I believe that one of the major miscalculations (of the many...) made by the Bush administration was the redefinition of “pre-emptive”, or the preferred “preventive” war that was implicit in the justification of Iraq2. This paper, in my mind, goes some way to showing where and how that redefinition has failed both in terms of the relationship between America and ROW, and too “on the ground” in Iraq.

It also shows, in the closing paragraphs, why Iraq2 has proven to be the major risk that many said it would be.

The first point that must be made is that even before 9/11, in fact the day after his inauguration, Bush had made his opinion of international law very clear. His repudiation of the agreements signed on behalf of the US Government relating to the International Court of Justice gave very clear notice that here was a President who had no time for the niceties of international diplomacy, and even less regard for the standing of international agreements. On those grounds alone, any international law that stood between the Bush administration and its intended goals would either bend or be ignored.

In the context of the Carlisle paper, the international law relating to pre-emption or preventive war would not have been a factor at all. From that point of view Carlisle is speaking in a retrospective examination of “might have beens” arriving at a “justification of the could have beens”. And it is that point that I want to pick up.

One of the very difficult things about international law, law of any kind really, is that it is “reactive” rather than forward looking. There is always a stable door to be bolted, rather than making sure that the horses can not run away.

And at that point I go back and read Carlisle’s concluding paragraph again and think to myself “Yes. Right on.” What a pity that it took Iraq2 and two more years for that realisation to surface.

Well I never...