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08 November 2015 |
The US unipolar moment is ending. Real multipolarity is upon us, with Russia, China, India, Brazil, South Africa and Iran testing new multipolar arrangements for sharing world power. The US fears these changes, and would prefer to corral everybody back into the familiar bipolar camps of the past. This would be a disaster. Australia will benefit from a stable rules-based multipolar world, and our foreign policy can help build it. But we are going to have to take a few calculated risks along the way.
03 November 2015 |
In the midst of hard times Greeks are good at practising what I call the Noble Art of Distraction. Nina and I were walking one night when our attention was caught by impromptu music. 'That's Cretan,' announced Nina. It transpired that one of the young men of the neighbourhood was to get married, and had turned up in order to have his prenuptial close shave and a haircut. The barber and his mates had decided that the occasion could not go unmarked, and so the modest festivities began.
29 October 2015 |
Invoking Joseph Conrad's story about seagoing doppelgangers, 'The Secret Sharer', Edward Said identified Islamophobia as anti-Semitism's respectable twin. Indeed Israeli PM Netanyahu's description of the Mufti urging Hitler onto greater evil contains an echo of the old anti-Semitic canard of Jews as shadowy manipulators. This trope is central to the infamous Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, was a key element in Goebbels' propaganda campaigns, and is now central to contemporary Islamophobia.
26 October 2015 |
Benjamin Netanyahu's historical revisionism last week essentially blaming Palestinians for the Holocaust was much more than just empty rhetoric. Demonising the Palestinians is how he sets the stage for the west's acceptance of the Israeli Occupation: the more he dehumanises them, the more brutality Israel gets away with. The context that gets lost along the way is the link that exists between Palestinian actions and the abysmal living conditions imposed on them by the Occupation.
22 October 2015 |
Sissies are on their way out on British playgrounds. Guidelines produced by the Institute of Physics for the Department of Education recommend that teachers strongly discourage sexist language at school. While internet forums are replete with admonitions from members of the public furious at the erosion of so-called free speech, the guidelines are a welcome tool in the long and exhausting fight for female equality, and Australia would do well to consider adopting such procedures too.
19 October 2015 |
Hollywood need not deny the violence cartels have perpetrated upon one another, members of the public, police and military. But to almost exclusively engage with Mexico in terms of this violence provides a badly limited perspective on that country. Hollywood does something similar when it goes to Africa and tells only stories of warlords and child soldiers. To do so brings nothing to the conversation, but merely exploits tragic situations for the benefit of laughs and action.
15 October 2015 |
Last Saturday's bomb blasts in the Turkish capital Ankara, which left 128 dead and some 246 wounded, occurred in the wake of the ruling AK Party's recent electoral defeat and its decision to call a fresh election. Since losing the election, President Erdoğan has effectively dumped a peace deal with the Kurdish nationalist PKK and restarted Ankara's war against the Kurdish people. Dark dies lie ahead for ordinary Turks and Kurds in Turkey until the grip of ultranationalism is broken.
11 October 2015 |
'Other countries in response to one mass shooting have been able to craft laws that almost eliminate mass shootings,' said Barack Obama earlier this month. 'Friends of ours, allies of ours, Great Britain, Australia — countries like ours.' Thankfully, America is not like Australia. Though many Australians feel a natural envy for our confident, successful cousin, many disturbing developments — Tea Party style politics, anti-immigrant nativism, know-nothing anti-science — have roots traceable to the US.
06 October 2015 |
In July, an NRA article entitled 'Australia: There Will be Blood' described Australia's gun buyback as a 'mass confiscation' that left guns in the hands of criminals and everyone else defenceless. Meanwhile, America has experienced more than one mass shooting per day so far this year. My hope is that we are in that time of unsustainable stasis Malcolm Gladwell talks about, during which nothing seems to be changing, while beneath the surface stability is being eroded, leading to sudden, permanent change.
05 October 2015 |
The Syrian government are no angels, and any more bombing raids on an already heavily bombed and traumatised population is unlikely to improve the situation for civilians. However, the American claim that the Russians have a poor record in this respect smacks of hypocrisy, given the US's admitted destruction last week of a Médecins Sans Frontières hospital in Afghanistan at the cost of 22 lives. Moscow's policy at least has the merits of legality, intelligibility and consistency.
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