Monday, April 06, 2015

Perhaps not so much an enigma inside a riddle wrapped in a mystery, as irony unloosed on the world by the likes of Murdochian accounting and Greg Sheridan fellow travelling with Netanyahu ...

(Above: the Moir enigma, and more Moir here).

As Hitler and the Muslims has been a recent hot button meme, the pond was pleased to come across Steve Coll's review of a couple of books on the subject, which ended with this irony in relation to Caucasus and Crimean Muslims (unfortunately behind the NYRB paywall):

Such was the coda to Nazi Germany to Nazi Germany's wartime engagement with Islam: a strategy born in cynicism, and fostered with the promotion of anti-Semitism, ended in mass civilian death and suffering among Muslims.

So it goes, but then Coll added this:

Nazi strategy left another legacy: it suggested a model for the United States during the cold war. In partnership with Saudi Arabia after the war, American strategists considered how a mobilized Islam might counter Soviet expansion in the Middle East. After the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, President Jimmy Carter authorized the CIA to provide covert aid to Afghan rebeles - a revival, in effect, of the OSS's "Jihad of Freedom."
William Casey, President Reagan's first CIA director, embraced the covert action program and took it further. He authorized printing Korans in the Uzbek language, so they could be smuggled by rebels across the Afghan border and distributed by Soviet citizens. Casey also authorized or at least turned a blind eye to guerrilla raids on Soviet territory carried out by rebels loyal to the Afghan Islamist Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. (Hekmatyar, who received arms from the CIA, is still fighting in Afghanistan against the Afghan government and the United States.)
The anti-Soviet rebellion offers one of the few cases in history where the external rousing of Muslim fighters against a non-Muslim occupying power succeeded, at least militarily. Of course, that was primarily because the Afghan resistance was indigenous and well underway before the United States with Saudi Arabia arrived to stoke it with dollars and sophisticated arms. The outcomes of American intervention in Afghanistan against the Soviets included a devastating civil war and the birth of al-Qaeda. The policy therefore can hardly be judged a strategic triumph.
Still, as in Berlin between the wars, failure has proven no deterrent to persistence in Washington, where Pentagon planners continue to act as if they can win wars in the Middle East by deftly manipulating and arming tribes, sects, and Islamic leaders in scattered lands they barely know.
Motadel's sophisticated narrative suggests at least two reasons why such Western strategies typically fail. One is the planners' ignorance of Islam's diversity and of the subtle part that faith plays in the daily lives of so many self-identified Muslims. That is, Westerners often overestimate Islam's coherence and thus its pliability.
The second reason is written across the vast history of colonial and post-colonial European and American interventions in Muslim territories, from the two world wars to the three Gulf wars and now to the campaign against the Islamic State. Muslim populations called to arms by Washington, London, or Berlin on the grounds of common enemies and common interests have heard it all before. They have seen countless promises betrayed and one traumatic outcome of Western intervention after another. It is little wonder that so many find the summons to alliance unconvincing.

Enough already with the irony. The pond frequently suffers from irony overload, and this was supposed to be a holiday Monday designed for chocoholics to recover and go choccie dry turkey. But wait, there is one more irony this day:

It's also there in the Daily Terror which gets more terrorible by the day:

If you reward the Terror or the HUN with a click you learn that there's no consternation about secret coercive interviews conducted away from public view, and with punitive powers deployed, such that you talk or cop the clink.

There's nothing like a secret star chamber to get the Murdochians wildly enthusiastic. But there was that irony the pond feared:

Professor Greg Barton, a terrorism expert at the Monash University, said investigators faced the challenge of overcoming a deep distrust of the police in some sections of the community.

Fancy that, a deep distrust of star chambers and the offer to talk or do time, in a secret process ...

Is there a libertarian in the house? Or at least a monarchist who knows about the star chambers in England that led to substantial legal reforms and which the pond was once made to study at unseemly length as an indication of a deeply corrupt society in urgent need of change... Greg Hunt them here.

Enough already with the irony, it's killing the pond. Surely there can't be any more ironies for the day?

Happily not, unless you happen to be interested in the tax avoiding, tax minimisation behaviour of international tax rorters and evaders:

Fancy that, and if you want to learn how it's done, head off to the rest of Michael West's story here.

But that brings us to the reptiles scribbling furiously for the lizard Oz, and in view of the above, could there be a rag more drenched in irony?

Not if you take this self-righteous splash at the top of the page as an indication of what it's like to work for an organisation dedicated to tax avoidance and/or minimisation, depending on how much you admire Kerry Packer's insight on the matter:

Indeed, indeed. Australia is suffering from a 'contaminated' tax process involving multinational business entities that is weakening community support for difficult reforms.

But whenever the pond shouts 'physician heal thyself', it turns out that some physicians who live by the scalpel also want to die by the scalpel ...

Yes the rorters who want others to embrace difficult reforms frequently seem to discover that rorting has a most seductive charm ... especially if the head of the firm wants to maintain beneficial political leverage around the world, while having a little pocket money to keep splashing the cash on New York apartments or whatever business opportunity hovers into view ...

The pond doesn't know who cranked the irony machine into overdrive today, but there was another fine example on view in the lizard Oz.

You can always spot servile enthusiasts to Netanyahu, and what a fine servile servant he has in Greg Sheridan.

What amazes the pond is the irony-free way that Sheridan gets indignant about the illegal behaviour of the Iranians:

Among these, Iran gets to keep nuclear facilities, such as its underground Fordow plant, which it developed illegally, in secret, in defiance of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Similarly, it gets to keep its heavy water reactor at Arak, although it will convert it to a facility that for the moment cannot produce plutonium.


What's this then?

Estimates as to the size of the Israeli nuclear arsenal vary between 75 and 400 nuclear warheads. It is estimated that the Israel nuclear deterrent force has the ability to deliver them by intermediate-range ballistic missile, intercontinental ballistic missile, aircraft, and submarine-launched cruise missile. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute estimates that Israel has approximately 80 intact nuclear weapons, of which 50 are for delivery by Jericho II medium-range ballistic missiles and 30 are gravity bombs for delivery by aircraft. (Greg Hunt it here).

As for illegal behaviour, how about Revealed: how Israel offered to sell South Africa nuclear weapons:

The documents, uncovered by an American academic, Sasha Polakow-Suransky, in research for a book on the close relationship between the two countries, provide evidence that Israel has nuclear weapons despite its policy of "ambiguity" in neither confirming nor denying their existence. 
The Israeli authorities tried to stop South Africa's post-apartheid government declassifying the documents at Polakow-Suransky's request and the revelations will be an embarrassment, particularly as this week's nuclear non-proliferation talks in New York focus on the Middle East. 
They will also undermine Israel's attempts to suggest that, if it has nuclear weapons, it is a "responsible" power that would not misuse them, whereas countries such as Iran cannot be trusted.

Oh indeed, such that there's a heavy irony in Sheridan's last petulant outburst:

When Iran eventually acquires nuclear weapons, it will almost certainly induce a raft of other players in the Middle East to acquire nuclear weapons as well.

Relax Mr Sheridan. Israel has already got more than its fair share, and it's a genuine fact of life that Israel possessing same in abundance has had absolutely no influence on a raft of players in the Middle East wanting to acquire their own set of high-powered toys ... at least if you enjoy irony and the stupidity and hypocrisy of heavily biased reptile commentators ...

Of course if you read sensible Israeli commentary, the reality is that the sky hasn't fallen in, and isn't falling in, and likely in the future it'll be a better alternative to bombing Iran and starting another war, and so there's no need to do a Greg Sheridan chicken little imitation of Netanyahu:

...the tight, invasive oversight of Iran’s nuclear program as defined by the framework, which will certainly be fleshed out in the final agreement, includes allowing UN inspectors into every Iranian nuclear facility, as well as uranium mines and storage facilities for a period of between 20 and 25 years. 

One positive aspect of the agreement is that Iran agreed to sign and ratify the additional protocol of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which allows the UN to conduct surprise inspections at any facility suspected of housing nuclear activity. The significance is that it will be very difficult for Iran to develop a nuclear program in secret, and if it tries to do so, it will likely be uncovered. Attempts to limit or obstruct inspectors would constitute a gross violation of the agreement, which could lead to reinstatement of the international sanctions. 
The agreement includes stipulations that are less easy for Israel to swallow, like the permission to continue research and development of advanced centrifuges, or the removal of economic sanctions and the sanctions leveled by the UN Security Council. But those are not the most critical clauses of the agreement, and they are definitely not ones that cannot be mitigated in a discreet, intimate and non-confrontational dialogue with the Obama administration. 
Israel will have a hard time fighting this agreement, or portraying it as bad. One of the reasons for this is that it’s clear to anyone that reads the agreement will understand that if Iran indeed upholds it, the threat of an Iranian nuclear weapon will be severely reduced over the next two decades, at least. Also, it is now clear that the military strike that Netanyahu was pushing for will not be able to achieve the same things as the agreement. It’s doubtful if Netanyahu, who tried to enlist Congress’ support against the agreement, will be able to find 13 Democratic senators who would vote against Obama. (Haaretz, behind the paywall, google the text for start of story).

Have a hard time portraying it as bad?

Well Haaretz didn't figure on the blind, irrational supporters of Netanyahu, Sheridan amongst them, doing their best chicken little impressions in a bid to scupper the deal, and maintain the tension in the middle east ... and not a word will be said about or against the region's one guaranteed illegal nuclear power ...

So is there just one uplifting news story, without a shred of irony, to hand in the lizard Oz? Can we return to the Moir engima which started off the day?

Come on down Phillip Hudson:

Yes, yes, but don't tease Mr Hudson, or we'll have to slip in a cartoon by Kudelka:

Please, go on:

Well there you go, the twin furies ... Julia Gillard and Julia Bishop comparisons ... still on the prowl ...

And finally, speaking of furies and Tasmania, the pond would like to honour and give hearty thanks to Tasmanians and Leo Schofield, and the Hobart Mercury, and the ABC and Fairfax and everyone else who provided a distraction over this way too solemn easter ...

Storms in a teacup aren't dead yet, and how grateful the pond is to learn that the furies, Erinyes to Tasmanian devils, still ride the wind ...

(Below: and finally to Cathy Wilcox, wishing the reptiles of Murdoch la la land a happy, if thrifty and canny post-easter egg hunt, as they pursue difficult reforms which naturally exclude any chance of reforming their own accounting practices and adept money shuffling, and more Wilcox here).


  1. Iranian uranium mines? Poor shows, but yielding more irony there as the US puppet Shah of Iran wanted uranium ore to help maintain an illusion of modernity in the phony atomic age era, and the US allowed Iran to import a mountainous pile of it from African mines under their wonderfully ironic 'Atoms for Peace Program'.

    At least the genocidal, apartheid, war criminal, apartheid zionist state Israhell buys some of its yellow cake from their liblab stooges.

  2. Well ya got to love Rupert. News Corp's touchy-feely relationship with Abbott proves Abbott's concern for ordinary folk.

    To that end - what's the Tasmanian version of optimism: The Tasmanian pessimist says “everything is so terrible it can’t get any worse” and the optimist says “oh yes it can”.

  3. To give ourselves a break from Abbott and his tame News Ltd photographer (which we are all paying for), how about some film nostalgia?

    Best film noir?

    My vote goes to Touch of Evil. Orson's masterpiece. The opening 3 minutes are one extended tracking shot made in one take. Unfortunately the film was butchered by the studios (after Welles pissed off Hearst - the Murdoch of his day), but the 1998 restoration is close to Welles' original masterpiece.

    1. The pond loves Orson Welles, but thinks there were many other film noir masterpieces. How about a blast from out of the past?

      And if you allow gangster movies in, who could go past Jimmy Cagney in White Heat?

      And how about Ronnie Raygun in the 1964 version of The Killers? That's if you've got the time ... though poor old Lee Marvin didn't ...

    2. I'd be all Kafka, and Anthony Perkins playing Chris Kenny lost in the bowels of Parramatta Road Ultimo.

  4. Hi Anon and Dorothy,

    I'd like to put Point Blank up for consideration. Very cool and Lee Marvin's anti-hero out for revenge is one of his best performances.



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