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The Forum > Article Comments > A Pyrrhic victory > Comments

A Pyrrhic victory : Comments

By Mark Christensen, published 4/9/2006

In our fight against terrorism we are giving up our freedom.

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Yes. 1968-2006 there were 24,930 terrorist (so defined) acts world wide, in165 countries, Iraq 4,680. USA 548, Australia 33;

With 35,023 deaths, Iraq 11,760 USA 3,227, Most on 9/11 as the use of technology allowed greater carnage, Aust 9.

Some 180,304 murders (Five times more) 302 in Australia, 12,000 in USA occurred.

I have yet to find out how many traffic, smoking, war or other deaths occurred ignoring suffering which may well be worse than death.

Terrorism has no agreed definition so the figures may be meaningless depending on the severity of definition (political opportunism in the countries statistics).

Terrorism has value to our leaders in controlling behaviour and encouraging support, on which Carmen Lawrence has just written a book Fear and Politics, Mark Danner has pulled together the data on the Downing Street Memo in The Way to Secret War, Edwards and Cromwell have addressed how well the media informs us in Guardians of Power whilst Philo and Berry of Glasgow University have looked at how we are informed about Israel in Bad News from Israel.

Australia has just allowed laws to place a person who only thought and little else in jail solitary confinement for 20 years.

Australia still pretends that we went to war in Iraq based ion intelligence a view disputed by the Downing Street Memo and still argues it was legal and of no interest to any international courts.

Perhaps an informed and thinking public is needed or more unlikely leaders of integrity and morality.
Posted by untutored mind, Monday, 4 September 2006 12:07:23 PM
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Bravo, Untutored Mind. We desperately need a thinking and informed public, and that amazing oddity - a leader, - better still, several leaders - of integrity.
The first casualty of the anti-terrorism crusade is of course, TRUTH.
It starts with the "War on Terrorism", with Bush comparing terrorism to the Nazi regime.
If you have a State organised invasion of another country - then you can declare a War between States.
How do you change the action of individual terrorists from a crime requiring criminal investigation and prosecution, into a war against an abstract term?
Yet we seem to all be buying this idea. That we are now in a global war, so we can join the U.S in pre-emptively striking any country they choose. And we can give up our freedoms, for the sake of freedom, start a war for the sake of peace .... ... live in an atmosphere of suspicion, secrecy and fear. Fear is in fact, a good political tactic for keeping the voters in line. Christina Macpherson
Posted by ChristinaMac, Monday, 4 September 2006 12:52:50 PM
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Let me say first I agree - our leaders are taking advantage of a climate of fear to push through laws that are very real threats to our civil liberties.

That being said, we do need to keep things in perspective - for instance, what would happen if the Howard Government was perform a policy backflip and place a strong emphasis on civil liberties, then Australia was hit by a nasty terrorist attack? It wouldn't be long before labor was trying to take advantage of the situation and arguing for stronger anti-terrorist measures which would clamp down on individual freedom.

We have a problem - there are two dystopic visions that fuel our fear: one is a world where our governments have been ineffectual, and terrorist attacks have become commonplace.
The second is a world where our governments have become an entity to fear, and people often vanish without explanation.

These are of course, extreme possibilities. Rather unlikely but not altogether impossible in a few decades.

The worst possible outcome, would be to have both these situations in tandem.

Ultimately, we need to have two strong voices. If we have a government that is clamping down on civil liberties, then we need a more vocal civil liberties set to keep them in check.

On the other hand, we don't necessarily want a government that pretends there is no problem.

Though, we are often still being misled on the effectiveness of terrorist organisations. What I would like to see is a more accurate picture of the relationship between cells of al-qaeda for instance, and how disparate they really are. I would like to see the official line questioned a little more, and the major parties actually taking a different stance in relation to the issue, rather than just trying to argue who is tougher on terror.
Posted by TurnRightThenLeft, Monday, 4 September 2006 1:03:11 PM
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I really don't think that Hitler actually invented "The Big Lie", but he did leave the most crystal clear definition that I ever read.

From Mein Kampf:

"All this was inspired by the principle - which is quite true in itself - that in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods.

It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation.

For the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down, a fact which is known to all expert liars in this world and to all who conspire together in the art of lying. These people know only too well how to use falsehood for the basest purposes."

Now you may well ask, in the country in which that book was most freely and abundantly read, how was it possible for Hitler and his cronies to put one over the good and civilised German nation?

You may as well ask present day Australians, for the same thing is happening here right now.

The document "Project For the New American Century", is the Mein Kampf of our times. But like the Germans before us, we don't read. We just look for the reflection of our prejudices in the McPropaganda dished up to us like so much swill.

Come on Aussie! You've been eating so much excrement, you're beginning to like the taste.
Posted by Chris Shaw, Carisbrook 3464, Monday, 4 September 2006 1:10:53 PM
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Oh, the depravations and loss of freedoms! Eating with plastic cutlery in the hope that you might reach your destination, and all that ‘emotive’ stuff.

I don’t know where Mr. Christensen was at the time, but one of my daughters was at Heathrow coming back home at the height of the emergency. She thought that the UK authorities did a top job. It was the passengers, unable to come to terms with the reality of Islamic terrorism, who caused problems for themselves by keeping their heads up their fundaments right up to the time they reached the counters.

My daughter is, incidentally, a 30’s something successful businesswoman and part time law student; nothing like her old Dad, often described here by some as a reactionary Nazi.

It would be interesting to sit with Mark Christensen on a ‘plane’ going down in flames after a terrorist attack, and asking him if he would like to review his claim that: “People consistently value freedom above mere existence”.

Mark Christensen should stick to economics. He is probably good at that.
Posted by Leigh, Monday, 4 September 2006 2:03:27 PM
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I do not agree with this article.

It certainly does make sense to take precautionary measures at an airport and during a flight. When a passenger enters an aircraft, they are not "free" to do as they like. They have entered into an agreement with a airline to have them safely transported to another place.

Under a Western conception of liberty, freedom is conditional on where it does impact on the freedom of others. This is no better demonstrated than in the confines of an aircraft cabin.

The main issues with anti-terrorism laws, is whether they strive to be objective in their application and making a clear distinction between a person of interest, an arrested suspect and convicted criminal. In order words, do they reflect our true values.

There is no real need for compromise. The fundamental principles of the Western world have created successful co-operating societies under the rule of law, valuing life, freedom, peace, diversity and tolerance. (not a complete list). These are our real and potent weapons against terrorism as they have been against other malevolent ideologies.

There have been empty arguments in this forum and elsewhere suggesting that Western values are weak, not capable of defeating terrorism or wrong. How bizarre is that, given the unparalleled success and dominance of western nations over the past 300-400 years?

But the sad aspect of some government policies seem to reflect this defeatism, not cognisant that every departure we make from our values gives terrorist groups oxygen and opportunity, whether it be corruption in South America, poverty in Africa or militarism in the Middle East.
Posted by David Latimer, Monday, 4 September 2006 3:41:57 PM
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